Flu fighters: DOD undertakes massive inoculation effort
By Judy Masterson email@example.com October 20, 2013 5:08PM
Four-year-old Mia Small of Racine is administered the flu vaccine in mist form by Nathan Christy, a health technician at Lovell Federal Health Care Center, as Mia’s mom, recently retired Navy veteran Maria Small, looks on. | JUDY MASTERSON~SUN-TIMES MEDIA
The Lake County Health Department/Community Health Center is offering flu and pneumonia vaccinations by appointment only at its Immunizations Annex, 2303 Dodge Ave., Waukegan. Call (847) 377-8470 for more information.
Updated: November 22, 2013 6:24AM
The Lovell Federal Health Care Center in North Chicago had already administered 17,000 flu vaccines to active duty military, their dependents, veterans and its staff even before it held a walk-in flu clinic last Saturday.
When it comes to influenza, the U.S. government does not mess around. All active duty military are required to receive the flu vaccine, which is also offered free to their dependents, veterans and Department of Defense health care workers.
“The DOD wants to make sure its forces are healthy and always prepared,” said Cmdr. Dr. Carolyn Winningham, who coordinates immunization efforts for Lovell. “The flu vaccine is the most important preventive measure you can take.”
A steady stream young and old got visited the free clinic at Lovell, the first DOD medical center in the nation to offer care for active duty military, their dependents and also to veterans.
William Cooper, 70, of Libertyville, a Vietnam veteran who retired in 1987 as a U.S. Army major, offered up two arms, one for the flu shot, the other for the pneumonia vaccine. The clinic also offered a shingles vaccine.
“As we get older, we’re more susceptible,” Cooper said. “I don’t want to be slowed down by the flu.”
The flu can be deadly for people with heart disease, asthma and other chronic pulmonary conditions. The virus kills 49,000 people a year in the United States, Winningham said.
Back in February, Lovell ordered more than 60,000 doses of flu vaccine, with the first shipment arriving Aug. 13. This season’s “trivalent” flu shot contains two strains from last year and one new. The “quadrivalent” vaccine, offered in a nasal mist for ages 2 through 49, contains live, weakened virus and includes a fourth strain.
“The flu can put you down for a week,” said Nathan Christy, a health technician at Lovell, who paused after spraying a mist into the nostrils of 4-year-old Mia Small, daughter of recently retired 20-year Navy veteran Maria Small of Racine. “When you have the flu, you know it: fever, muscle aches, chills. You can feel like you’re gonna die.”