PORTSMOUTH, Va. (NNS) -- Beneficiaries have been arriving by the hundreds at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth and its branch clinics since the facilities started administering H1N1 flu vaccines to all dependents and retirees on Dec. 4.
"We are averaging in the region more than 600 to 800 H1N1 shots given in a day," said Immunization Manager Cherylann Kraft. "We are still actively vaccinating for seasonal flu as well."
Approximately 80,000 vaccines for seasonal flu have been administered, and the medical center has received additional supplies of seasonal flu vaccine.
NMCP and its branch clinics have so far administered approximately 8,500 H1N1 influenza vaccines to dependents and retirees, the majority in the form of the FluMist nasal vaccine. The immunization clinic stayed open into the evening the week before Thanksgiving to allow as many beneficiaries as possible to get their H1N1 vaccine.
"It was a resounding success," said Kraft. "We'll look into offering expanded hours again as we receive more vaccine."
With the hustle and stress of the holidays, some people may not make the flu shot a priority.
"We don't want people to become complacent. The flu virus arrives in waves. While we've had five consecutive weeks of declining influenza-like illness, the current rates are still higher than the peak in previous years," said Cmdr. Christopher Clagett, Preventive Medicine department head at the Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center in Portsmouth, Va.
"The worry is that people will get complacent and won't get vaccinated, and there'll be a second wave" of H1N1 influenza, Clagett added. "The more who get vaccinated, the smaller the subsequent wave (of flu) there would be."
Patients checking into the Portsmouth medical center can rest assured that staff members are equally concerned about the flu. More than 99 percent have been vaccinated against seasonal flu, surpassing the health care provider requirement, and H1N1 immunization of staff is ongoing.
H1N1 vaccines for active-duty service members should soon arrive. Kraft said they are "expected imminently." As soon as the medical center receives them, H1N1 flu shot clinics for service members will be announced.
For more information on flu shot clinics at NMCP, call the flu hotline at 757-953-3045 or visit www.med.navy.mil/sites/NMCP.
For more news from Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, visit www.navy.mil/local/NMCP/.