NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (NNS) -- The USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) Health Services Department began administering influenza vaccinations to Sailors Nov. 17, in an effort to support the Department of Defense (DoD) vaccination policy.
Because Sailors, Soldiers, Airmen, and Marines often work in close quarters, vaccinations are administered to prevent an influenza outbreak that could compromise operational readiness.
"Some people don't realize how bad influenza can be," said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class (FMF) Jeffrey Morrison. "It can knock you down confined to a bed for weeks, or even kill you. In the 1950s, a pandemic of influenza outbreaks put entire military bases out of commission, so it's important to prevent that from happening again."
The influenza vaccine is available in two forms; the "flu shot", given in the arm with an inactive strain, and the nasal-spray flu vaccine, made with weakened strains of the virus.
A common misconception, according to Morrison, is the fear of getting sick from the influenza vaccine. Morrison said the vaccine works by introducing a weakened or dead flu strain into the body to create antibodies against the real virus.
"It may cause your body to react slightly, but taking in vitamin C along with other precautions will help ease any strain," said Morrison. "If you get sick, chances are you already were getting sick."
For Carl Vinson Sailors, about 90 percent of the influenza vaccines administered were the nasal spray and the remaining 10 percent were injections for people with asthma, chronic bronchitis, or other medical conditions.
According to the ship's doctors, there are advantages to the nasal spray vaccination.
"A few key advantages to the nasal spray include no biohazard materials to worry about and the live virus is hobbled, so it actually generates better immunities in the body, not to mention the removal of pain from the shot," said Cmdr. Chris Lucas, Carl Vinson's senior medical officer.
The Carl Vinson Health Services Department expects to have every Sailor aboard vaccinated by December, but the ship's hospital corpsmen continue to stress the importance of prevention as it relates to medical readiness.
"It is important for the crew to keep up on their medical readiness," said Morrison. "A visit twice a year, during the flu vaccination and during their birth month is what we expect from all of our crew members. Then, simple measures such as good body hygiene and washing your hands will go a long way in preventing illnesses like the flu."
Carl Vinson is undergoing its scheduled refueling complex overhaul (RCOH) at Northrop Grumman Newport News shipyard. The RCOH is an extensive yard period that all Nimitz-class aircraft carriers go through near the mid-point of their 50-year life cycle.
During RCOH Carl Vinson's nuclear fuel will be replenished and the ship's services and infrastructure will be upgraded to make her the most state-of-the-art aircraft carrier in the fleet and prepare for another 25 years or more of service.
For more news from USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn70/.