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H1N1 vaccination coming to Vandenberg

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The base clinic will have H1N1 influenza virus vaccinations available possibly as early as late October, according to 30th Medical Group officials. 

The immunizations clinic will vaccinate active duty military members first. 

The FDA approved vaccines for the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus Sept. 15. Even though previous reports anticipated that all people would require two shots of the H1N1 vaccine, most healthy adults will only require one shot of the vaccine. Children 6 months to 9 years old should be administered two doses of the 2009 H1N1 vaccine.

In spring of this year, an increase was seen in cases of "influenza-like illnesses" in the U.S., and investigations led to the discovery of the 2009 H1N1 influenza strain, dubbed the "swine flu" by the media. Since humans have not been exposed to the H1N1 strain for decades, the concern is that people will have little or no immunity to the virus, according to 30th Medical Group officials. So far, most people infected with H1N1 have had only mild symptoms. 

Although the initial wave of infections has been mild, the concern is that subsequent waves may be more virulent, since the influenza virus can mutate and increase its infectious potential. 

In the U.S., seasonal influenza occurs every year during the late fall and lasts through the spring. Usually young children and adults older than 65 years of age are most affected. Seasonal influenza contributes to approximately 226,000 hospitalizations and 36,000 deaths in previous years. So far, the H1N1 influenza has caused 9,079 hospitalization and 593 deaths in the U.S., mostly affecting the very young, the very old and people who have a depressed immune system. 

The 30th MDG will have the regular seasonal influenza vaccine available, as in previous years, in either the shot or the FluMist nasal spray. The FluMist nasal spray, which has a live attenuated virus, is indicated for people ages 2-49 without underlying medical conditions. Children 6 months to 2 years of age, adults 50 years and older, pregnant women and people with underlying medical conditions will need to receive the shot, which has an inactivated virus. 

According to the 30th Medical Operations Squadron's public health office, the best ways to prevent the flu is by getting the flu immunizations and exercising proper sanitary measures, which include: 

- Regular hand washing, either with a hand sanitizer or with soap and water for 15 seconds. 

- Covering coughs and sneezes using the upper arm sleeve, instead of using the hands. 

- Self-treating influenza symptoms, which are defined by the Centers for Disease Control as a temperature greater than 100.5 degrees and a cough and/or a sore throat, and avoiding crowds. The message from the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department is to treat "mild" flu symptoms at home, so the medical facilities can take care of patients with more severe symptoms. 

Military unit commanders and supervisors have the authority to grant up to 24 hours of sick status at their discretion if a member's illness or injury does not require medical treatment facility intervention. If symptoms persist, the ill or injured person should contact the 30th MDG at 606-2273.