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Flu season underway at SMC; Vaccinations available at Los Angeles AFB and Fort MacArthur

According to the Centers for Disease Control, flu-related illnesses in the United States result in approximately 95 million infections, 25 million doctor visits, 200,000 hospitalizations and on average 36,000 deaths annually. The best method of protection for you against the flu is to receive your annual influenza vaccine. This vaccine is updated every year to best match the predicted circulating virus strains. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Senior Airman Steele C. G. Britton)

According to the Centers for Disease Control, flu-related illnesses in the United States result in approximately 95 million infections, 25 million doctor visits, 200,000 hospitalizations and on average 36,000 deaths annually. The best method of protection for you against the flu is to receive your annual influenza vaccine. This vaccine is updated every year to best match the predicted circulating virus strains. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Senior Airman Steele C. G. Britton)

Flu Vaccine

The flu vaccine is a mandatory individual medical readiness item for all active-duty personnel that must be completed by Nov. 30. Certain people need to get vaccinated each year because they are at high risk of having serious flu-related complications or because they live with or care for high risk persons. (U.S. Air Force graphic)

The 78th Medical Group Immunization Clinic in Bldg. 700 has flu vaccines available for active duty members. (Illustration by Harry Paige)

The 61st Medical Squadron's Immunization Clinic at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo and Ft. MacArthur in San Pedro, Calif. has flu vaccines available. The flu vaccine is a mandatory individual medical readiness item for all active-duty personnel that must be completed by Nov. 30. Military, government civilians and those with a valid retired or dependent ID card can get their vaccination via flu mist, or flu shot upon indication. (U.S. Air Force illustration/Harry Paige)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --  As a general rule of thumb, anyone who wants to spare themselves or their family from the flu should get vaccinated.

As a general rule of thumb, anyone who wants to spare themselves or their family from the flu should get vaccinated. The flu vaccine is a mandatory individual medical readiness item for all active-duty personnel that must be completed by Nov. 30. Military, government civilians and those with a valid retired or dependent ID card can get their vaccination via flu mist, or flu shot upon indication. (U.S. Air Force graphic/Tech. Sgt. Benjamin Rojek)

LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, El Segundo, Calif. -- The change from summer to fall signals the start of the seasonal flu and cold season.

The 61st Medical Squadron has received the flu vaccine for all eligible beneficiaries, age six months old and older. Vaccines are available at both the Los Angeles AFB and Fort MacArthur clinics until the end of the season, which runs to June 29, 2016. Military, government civilians and those with a valid retired or dependent ID card can get their vaccination via flu mist, or flu shot upon indication.

The flu vaccine is a mandatory individual medical readiness item for all active-duty personnel that must be completed by Nov. 30. To help expedite reaching the deadline, a Flu line will be conducted at the Space and Missile Systems Center's Schriever Space Complex at Los Angeles AFB. SMC personnel are encouraged to attend one of the following dates or visit the Immunizations clinic at their earliest convenience to complete the medical readiness requirement:

Flu lines (all held from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.):
Oct. 23 - Bldg. 270 in the lobby area/entrance to the Gordon Conference Center
Oct. 27 - Bldg. 271 in the main lobby
Oct. 29 - Bldg. 272 in the lobby of the main entrance
Nov. 5 - Aerospace Corporation main lobby

The medical staff at the Los Angeles AFB Clinic reminds you of a number of actions your family can take to prevent the spread of this infectious agent as well as other "wintertime" respiratory viruses.

"Seasonal flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by a variety of influenza viruses that occurs every winter throughout the United States," said Maj. Roy Louque, 61st Medical Squadron flight commander of the Family Health, Immunization and Physical Therapy clinics and a member of the Air Force Nurse Corps. "It can cause mild to severe illness and at times can lead to death."

According to Louque, the best way to prevent or minimize the impact of seasonal flu is by getting your flu vaccination each year.

"Flu vaccinations are available through both the Los Angeles AFB and Fort MacArthur outpatient clinics and is a mandatory individual medical readiness item for all active-duty personnel," Louque said. "Yearly seasonal flu vaccinations begin in September as soon as vaccine is available and continue throughout the influenza season."

Louque added that certain people need to get vaccinated each year because they are at high risk of having serious flu-related complications or because they live with or care for high risk persons. People in these groups include:

· Children aged six months to 19 years old;
· Pregnant women;
· People 50 years of age and older;
· People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions;
· People who live in nursing homes/ long-term care facilities, and;
· People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, such as health care workers, household contacts of persons at high risk for complications from the flu, household contacts and out of home caregivers of children less than six months of age.

Flu and many other respiratory viruses are spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing of people with the illness. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.

"Most adults with influenza may be able to infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to five days after becoming sick. Children may pass the virus for longer than seven days," said Staff Sgt. Chris Soegono, NCO in charge of the Immunization clinic. "Symptoms start one to four days after the virus enters the body. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick."

Soegono also stressed some persons can be infected with the flu virus but have no symptoms. During this time, those persons can still spread the virus to others, so take everyday preventive actions to prevent spreading the flu or other respiratory viruses, even if you don't feel ill.

Common health tips for dealing with the flu:
· 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. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective;
· Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, and clean commonly touched objects such as door knobs and phones often, and;
· Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
"If you are sick with flu-like symptoms, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities," Soegono said. "Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine before you go back to work."

If you get the flu:
· Stay home from work or school;
· Get lots of rest;
· Drink plenty of liquids, and;
· Avoid using alcohol and tobacco

There are over-the-counter medications to relieve the symptoms of the flu. However, never give aspirin to children or teenagers who have flu-like symptoms, particularly fever. If needed, consult your doctor for the best treatment, but also be aware of these warning signs that require urgent medical attention:

In children:
· Fast breathing or trouble breathing
· Bluish skin color
· Not drinking enough fluids
· Not waking up or not interacting
· Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
· Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
· Fever with a rash

In adults:
· Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
· Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
· Sudden dizziness
· Confusion
· Severe or persistent vomiting

The majority of people will recover from the flu without any complications. If you have any questions, please contact the Immunization clinic staff at 653-6607 or via email at 61mds.sgoi@us.af.mil