By MC1 John Banfield, NMCB 28 Public Affairs
LTJG Benjamin Stafford, attached to NMCB 28, receives the annual flu vaccination, Oct. 2013, Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan.
Sailors attached to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 28 received their annual flu vaccinations while down range. The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by the influenza viruses. It can be spread when a person with the flu coughs or sneezes and the aerosol droplets come in contact with mucous membranes of other individuals.
The flu has the potential to adversely impact Navy force readiness and mission execution. There are more than 25 million reported cases of the influenza, 150 thousand hospitalizations for serious complications and approximately 24 thousand deaths each year in the United States. Vaccination is the primary method to reduce this risk by enhancing force immunity.
“Some other ways to help stop the spreading of the flu is to wash your hands, cover your cough, and if you do have symptoms (of the flu) come to medical and we will decide if you need to be sick in quarters,” said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Carolina Bornstein.
“The flu is a very contagious disease, so it can spread very rapidly to other personnel,” said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Richard Spees. “The vaccine will help prevent Sailors from getting the flu.”
The injected vaccine is made from an inactivated influenza virus that cannot transmit the infection. The vaccine can also be administered through a nasal mist, which is made from a live virus, but is weakened and cannot cause the severe symptoms of the flu.
“I don’t like the fact that some people think that the flu mist or the flu shot gives them the flu,” Spees said. “There is a lot of misconception about the actual shot or mist as far as making people sick.”
The seasonal influenza vaccination is mandatory for all Department of Defense uniformed personnel who are not medically or administratively exempt. A refusal by military personnel to receive the influenza vaccine can be seen as a failure to obey a lawful order and may be punishable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) or result in administrative action.
Spees explained that this is necessary because an outbreak would be devastating to the unit. They could not deploy with the possibility of an outbreak, which is why the vaccine is mandatory for all military personnel.
Y1 Tiffany Norwood, attached to NMCB 28, receives the mandatory annual flu vaccination, Oct. 2013, Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan.