What you need to know about the H1N1 vaccination

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt Andrea Vollmer
  • 180th Medical Group
1. What are the highlights of the DOD, AF, ANG and 180th policies?

The bottom line of the DOD, AF, ANG and 180th policies emphasizes the importance of protecting our greatest asset - our personnel. The basic functions of the military (training environments, deployed locations, etc.) make our personnel highly susceptible to outbreaks that can significantly impact the mission. The H1N1 vaccination offers a reliable way to protect military personnel and in turn protect their families. The impact of H1N1 has been significant enough to warrant making the H1N1 vaccine mandatory. ANG policy states all uniformed National Guard members will be vaccinated against H1N1 no later than 30 April 2010. ANG policy also states individuals with a history of H1N1 infection should still be vaccinated.

2. Will the vaccination be a requirement for unit members?

Yes! In compliance with DoD Policy, the H1N1 vaccination is required for all uniformed military members.

3. What if unit members are uncomfortable with getting the vaccination or even refuse?

Individuals should not hesitate to contact the 180th Medical Group with questions or concerns. Every effort will be made to provide the education and information requested; however, this is a mandatory vaccination and refusals will be referred back to the individual's Commander for action as with any vaccine or medical refusal.

4. What kind of support will the 180th medical team provide in meeting the vaccination policies and requirements?

The 180th Medical Group will be available to vaccinate personnel in a military status Saturday during normal hours of operation each Unit Training Assembly until all personnel are vaccinated against H1N1.

5. Will this be a recurring (annual) vaccination?

If H1N1 continues to be a Public Health concern, it will be incorporated into the seasonal flu vaccine in the future. Timing of the outbreak with seasonal flu vaccine production already underway did not make this possible for the 2009-2010 flu season.

6. How many vaccinations are in the series (1, 2, 3)?

For individuals age 10 and over, the H1N1 vaccine is a single dose. For
children age 6 months to 9 years, 2 doses 4 weeks apart is recommended.

7. Will the vaccinations be shots or the mist and what is the difference between the two?

Like the seasonal flu, the H1N1 vaccine is available in both a mist and injectable form with the mist being a live vaccine and the injectable being attenuated. Injectable vaccine has been procured for military members.

8. Is there a waiting period between receiving the seasonal vaccination and the H1N1 vaccination?

Because of the mist delivery system, you would not be able to receive two mist vaccinations at the same time - they would need to be separated by 4 weeks. Seasonal Flu and H1N1 can be given at the same time as long as one or both are injectable serum.

9. Do you have any recommendations for the families of our unit members (children, spouses, etc)?

The CDC has provided guidelines for vaccination and priority groups; however, supply has now reached a level that all individuals are able to obtain the vaccination and the CDC recommendation is that all eligible individuals be vaccinated. Please see the CDC recommendations and contra-indications at www.cdc.gov or consult your family physician for individual recommendations based on medical history, allergies or other concerns.

10. Are there different requirements for pregnant unit members?

The CDC has identified pregnant women as a high risk group and a priority for vaccination; however, every situation is different and pregnant women should consult their obstetric provider for advice relevant to their medical history. Based on recent policy changes, the 180th Medical Group is unable to provide any vaccination to pregnant individuals.

11. Are there side effects of these vaccinations?

CDC expects that any side effects following vaccination with the 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccine would be rare. Any side effects that have occurred since people started receiving the 2009 H1N1 vaccine have been similar to those experienced following seasonal influenza vaccine. Mild problems that may be experienced include soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given, fainting (mainly adolescents), headache, muscle aches, fever, and nausea. If these problems occur, they usually begin soon after the shot and last 1-2 days. Life-threatening allergic reactions to vaccines are very rare. If they do occur, it is usually within a few minutes to a few hours after the shot is given.

12. About how many personnel do you estimate to vaccinate at the 180th?

The 180th Medical Group will provide H1N1 vaccinations to all unit members.

13. Please add any additional comments you feel are important for us to know.

There has been a lot of concern expressed about the H1N1 being a "new" vaccine. It is important for individuals to understand that the H1N1 vaccine was created using the same processes and facilities that are used to make the currently licensed seasonal flu vaccines.
If you received your seasonal flu or H1N1 vaccine at a non-military location, please provide the following information to update your military immunization record.

· Date and location of vaccination
· Lot number and manufacturer
· Dose and route of administration

In addition to vaccination, take everyday actions to stay healthy.
· Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
· Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
· Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way.

Stay home if you get sick. CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them. CDC recommends that people with influenza-like illness remain at home until at least 24 hours after they are free of fever (temperature of 100° F [37.8°C] or more), or signs of a fever without the use of fever-reducing medications.
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