CAMP AL TAQADDUM, Iraq --
His head was pounding as he rolled out of bed. His muscles ached with every step as he walked to the restroom. He had a fever so high you could fry an egg on his forehead and despite the eight hours of sleep he had gotten the night before, he was tired and groggy. He had the hallmark signs of someone who didn’t get their influenza vaccination.
The Center for Disease Control website states that receiving the yearly flu vaccine reduces your chances of being infected with the influenza virus by 70% to 90% in healthy adults.
For civilians it’s a choice, but for service members across the military it’s required.
Even though they’re deployed, Marines and sailors of Combat Logistics Regiment 27 (Forward) are required to get their flu vaccination by Oct. 31.
“October or November is the ideal time to receive the flu vaccination because it is still early in the flu season,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Chase G. Gifford, a hospital corpsman at the CLR-27 (Fwd) regimental aid station.
Some may think that because they are in Iraq it is not necessary to be vaccinated, but the risk of catching the flu still remains while in theater.
“While in a deployed environment Marines and sailors live in really close quarters, making it easy for the influenza virus to spread,” Gifford said. “It is important that everyone be vaccinated to prevent the spread of the virus, loss of duty time and loss of combat power.”
The aid station corpsmen are being proactive in making sure that all the service members in the regiment are up-to-date with their vaccinations.
The aid station personnel have scheduled multiple influenza shot calls at multiple locations to accommodate all of the Marines and sailors in the regiment. Marines or sailors who are unable to receive their influenza vaccine at these shot calls will be able to come to the regimental aid station to get their vaccination.
There have not been any recently reported cases of the flu within the regiment, Gifford said. However that doesn’t mean that Marines and sailors should ignore the basic rules to prevent germs from spreading.
“Marines can help prevent the flu from spreading by washing their hands frequently, covering their mouth when coughing or sneezing and maintaining a healthy lifestyle,” Gifford said. “Marines and sailors should also come to medical as soon as they start experiencing symptoms for early detection of the influenza virus, and take initiative to make sure they and their fellow Marines are educated on signs and symptoms of the flu.”
An acronym to help remember the symptoms of this vicious virus is FACTS, fever, aches, chills, tiredness, and sudden symptoms.
The regimental aid station is working on getting the vaccination for the H1N1 influenza so that deployed Marines will be protected from it as well.
“There haven’t been any cases of swine flu aboard Camp Al Taqaddum and I cannot speak for the rest of Iraq,” Gifford said. “Since the swine flu is new and developing, as is the vaccination, there is new information [about the subject] developing every day.”
In the meantime, service members aboard the base should be getting the available vaccination for the annual influenza virus.
“Getting my flu shot is not something I look forward to every year,” said Staff Sgt. Joel McMillan, an electronic key management system assistant manager with CLR-27 (Fwd), “but if it makes me less likely to get sick then it is worth it.”
Before Marines and sailors go running from a doc with an intimidating needle, they should remember a minute of pain can save them from a week of suffering.