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Air Force officials to offer H1N1 vaccine

By Tech. Sgt. Amaani Lyle

Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (AFNS) – As part of the service’s preventative efforts to safeguard the health of the force,Air Force medical staffs are set to provide 1 million H1N1 vaccination doses to Airmen and their family members by early November, officials said Oct. 8.

Air Force medical personnel will receive and distribute to active duty, guardsmen and reservists the first disbursement of the vaccine purchased by the Department of Defense and Health and Human Services Department officials.

“The Air Force has been conducting service-wide detailed pandemic planning since 2007 and we’ve established mission-specific procedures to prepare for disease outbreaks,” said Col. Chance Saltzman, the Air Staff’s Strategic Plans and Policy Division chief. “A common sense approach will also help keep Airmen and their families healthy. Everyone should be vigilant about personal hygiene, seek medical care if they feel sick and contact their health care provider if they have questions or have been directly exposed to someone who has contracted the H1N1 virus.”

The prioritization list is as follows:

– Group 1: Deployed forces, ships afloat, high-risk health care providers and people at training sites such as basic military training and undergraduate pilot training.

– Group 2: Mission-essential and mission-critical personnel

– Group 3: All other military personnel

Certain higher-risk populations also will be targeted for priority H1N1vaccinations in accordance with Center for Disease Control recommendations. The key populations include pregnant women, health care personnel, caretakers for infants younger than 6 months of age and people between the ages of 6 months and 24 years old, particularly those with chronic health disorders or compromised immune systems.

Air Force civilians and contractors will be able to obtain the H1N1 vaccine through their primary care providers or local health departments, located by visiting www.naccho.org/about/lhd.

Air Force officials recently completed an H1N1 pandemic response exercise, in which Airmen performed a recall and received common access card equipment to telecommute in the event of an outbreak.

“The exercise went very well and provided many lessons learned that will enable organizations to better mitigate the effects of a pandemic and ensure continuity of critical operations,” Colonel Saltzman said.

For more information about H1N1 and preventative measures or what to do in case of exposure, visit the CDC Web site www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/  or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website for flu www.flu.gov/ or the DOD Web site http://fhp.osd.mil/aiWatchboard/ or the Air Force H1N1 Web site www.af.mil/h1n1/.

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