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Fighting the Flu

BALTIMORE -- When duty calls, the Maryland Air National Guard must be ready to respond. Saying "we're sick and can't fight today" is not an option. 

To stay healthy and avoid this season's flu, the 175th Medical Group is vaccinating the Airmen of the Maryland Air National Guard. 

According to 1st Lt. John Young, medical administrative officer, 175th Medical Group, all Airmen will receive a seasonal influenza immunization. Members under the age of 50 will receive the FluMist intranasal vaccine and those 50 and older will receive the injectable seasonal influenza vaccine. 

Department of Defense officials have stressed the importance of getting the seasonal flu vaccination as soon as possible. "That has been our message to immunizers: to try and get as many people as they can immunized against the seasonal flu early," said Army Lt. Col. (Dr.) Wayne Hachey, the director of preventive medicine for Defense Department health affairs. 

In addition to the seasonal flu shot, Airmen will also receive the H1N1 vaccine. This is in accordance with Department of Defense and Air National Guard headquarters directives. 

The vaccine, which has been licensed by the Food and Drug Administration, will be mandatory for uniformed personnel said Colonel Hachey.
According to Chief Master Sgt. Steve Bloodworth, 175th Medical Group, the H1N1 vaccine will be administered as a mist to Airmen under 50 years old. Airmen 50 years or older will receive an injection. 

Lieutenant Young stated that the H1N1 vaccine will likely require one dose and will be administrated later this month. This immunization is in addition to the seasonal flu vaccine. 

The H1N1 is a never-before-seen combination of human, swine and avian flu viruses, officials said. First detected in Mexico in February 2009, it quickly spread around the world. According to July World Health Organization statistics, there have been 94,512 H1N1 cases worldwide, and 429 people died from it. In the United States, 33,902 people contracted the disease and 170 died. 

There are some best practices to minimize the chance of acquiring the flu and/or H1N1. Recommendations include: exercising, sleeping and eating well. If you cough, direct the cough into a tissue or the upper sleeve rather than the hand. Frequent hand washing is recommended with soap and water or use a waterless alcohol-based hand cleaner. Airmen should also avoid others who are sick. 

For more information, visit www.flu.gov.