Military to start swine flu vaccinations


POSTED: Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tripler Army medical officials expect this month to begin vaccinating the nearly 49,000 active-duty military personnel stationed in Hawaii against the swine flu, beginning with those due to deploy.

Jan Clark, Tripler spokeswoman, said despite a Pentagon decision nearly two months ago to make the H1N1 vaccinations mandatory for every active-duty soldier, sailor, airman and Marine, Tripler as yet has no vaccines from military sources.

“;We expect to get them this month,”; she said.

Until then, Clark said, Tripler has been following the guidelines established by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, with priority given to pregnant patients and civilian health care workers.

Tripler is now getting its supply of vaccine from the state Health Department. Clark said as of Oct. 21, Tripler has received 5 percent of 146,500 doses of the H1N1 influenza vaccine allocated to Hawaii.

The Pentagon is buying its stock of vaccine through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. At least 2.7 million doses have been ordered and will be used to provide two injections to 1.35 million people, an Army health official said in September.

At a Pentagon news conference earlier this month, spokesman Geoff Morrell said the Central Command, which oversees operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, has received 50 percent of what it requires to inoculate the 300,000 troops in the area.

He also told reporters that “;our forces on the peninsula - the Korean peninsula - have received now 100 percent of their requirement this week, roughly 26,000 doses.”;

The Pentagon hopes to immunize all military and Department of Defense civilians in South Korea by Thanksgiving.

Morrell said that the Pentagon has a priority list.

“;At the top of that, of that hierarchy, are U.S. forces. No. 2 on that list are deployed health care workers, both civilian and contractors. No. 3 are civilians.”;

There have been reports of troops being held in isolation in Kuwait this past summer after coming down with the flu.

In July the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., reported more than 100 cases of suspected H1N1.