NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (Oct. 16, 2018) (NNS) -- Every year in the fall to winter timeframe, flu season hits and with it the Navy requires all Sailors to get vaccinated. Onboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) is no different with hospital corpsmen administering the vaccine to as many Sailors as possible.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that the first and most important step in preventing the spread of the flu is to get the flu vaccine every year.
“To keep it very simple it can keep you from getting the flu,” said Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Cheyanne Johnson, one of the corpsmen assigned to George Washington. “It doesn’t always work 100 percent, but even if you get the flu it will be much less severe. Once you get the shot, you also can’t spread it to your family or friends.”
The CDC also recommends everyday actions one can take to help slow the spread of germs such as staying away from those who are sick and frequently washing your hands.
According to NAVADMIN 241/17, it's mandatory for all active duty service members to receive the flu vaccine/mist unless they are medically or administratively exempt. Failure to receive the vaccine/mist can result in administrative action or punishment under the UCMJ.
“We’re looking to protect the individual Sailor and the command as a whole,” said HM1 Chamu Chimhau. “The flu can easily get out of control and can be easily spread. We try to get as many Sailors as we possibly can so we can develop what is known as herd immunity, which helps to protect those among us who may not be vaccinated.”
The CDC estimates that influenza has resulted in between 9.2 million and 35.6 million illnesses; between 140,000 and 710,000 hospitalizations; and between 12,000 and 56,000 deaths annually since 2010 in the United States.
According to the CDC, carriers of the flu can spread the virus even before they themselves know that they have it. Seemingly healthy adults can spread the virus one day before symptoms can begin to show up. Even after symptoms have gone away there is still a five to seven day period where one can spread the virus to others.
“The Navy requires that we have a minimum of 90 percent of the crew vaccinated by December 15th,” said Chimhau. “But we are trying to go above and beyond that. We are trying to get 100 percent of the crew vaccinated a month before the deadline comes around.”
For more information on the flu vaccine visit medical on the 2nd deck of the Floating Accomodation Facility (FAF) and the CDCs website at https://www.cdc.gov/flu/.
For more news from USS George Washington (CVN 73), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn73/.