NORFOLK (NNS) -- Commands and medical clinics throughout U.S. Fleet Forces (USFF) continue to execute a strategy of information awareness and vaccination of personnel to fight against the H1N1 flu.
Currently all active duty personnel and Department of Defense beneficiaries are eligible to receive the H1N1 vaccine. NAVADMIN 340/09 requires all commands to utilize the Navy Family Accountability and Assessment System (NFAAS) to report H1N1 vaccinations for all active duty, Reserve, government civilian, and contractor employees. However the reporting of civilian and contractor employees is strictly voluntary.
"The vaccination program is going very well," said Rear Adm. Alton Stocks, USFF fleet surgeon. "In just the past two weeks we have made tremendous strides in getting the vaccine doses out to the fleet to our first priority group, which are deployers."
Rear Adm. Stocks said afloat operational units, and those ashore who are preparing to deploy, are among the first to be receiving the vaccine, and deliveries to those units continue to arrive every day.
"Our command recently received the H1N1 vaccine, and we're working to get everyone immunized within the week," said USS Gonzales (DDG 66) Command Master Chief (SW/AW) Diane Ruhl. "It's important that all of our Sailors are ready to carry out our ship's mission on a moment's notice. And their health and physical readiness are at the heart of that ability."
Stocks said the H1N1 vaccine is produced using the same methods as the seasonal flu vaccine, which has proven to be extremely safe and effective.
In order to detect early outbreaks of H1N1 flu, all influenza-like illnesses are monitored in the fleet and reported to Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center (NMCPHC). NMCPHC collects data from the fleet as well as throughout the Navy and recommends appropriate interventions to mitigate further spread of the H1N1 flu. Influenza-like illnesses and H1N1 cases continue to decline throughout the fleet and Navywide according to Capt. Tina Davidson, USFF fleet nurse.
The symptoms of the H1N1 flu are almost the same as the seasonal flu: fever, sore throat, runny nose, nausea, muscle aches and feeling rundown. The 2009 H1N1 virus - formerly known as swine flu - is a pandemic virus, according to the World Health Organization. U.S. officials call the virus "troubling" and urge people to take actions to mitigate the effects of it.
Together with the vaccine efforts, medical personnel throughout the fleet are also helping disseminate information about the flu and its prevention, such as staying home when sick, frequent hand-washing, and taking common sense precautions to stay healthy.
"The bottom line is we must get our Sailors who are on the front lines vaccinated against this H1N1 flu in a timely manner, and that has been our number one priority." said USFF Fleet Medical Master Chief Hospital Corpsman (SW/FMF) Michael Hedden. "We're making great strides in fleet-wide distribution to ensure our ships remain mission ready."
For additional information on the H1N1 flu or the vaccine, visit the CDC Web site at www.cdc.gov, or the Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center at http://www-nehc.med.navy.mil/.
For more news from U.S. Fleet Forces Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/clf/.