Sep 2, 2009 (CIDRAP News) – Vaccination against the pandemic H1N1 influenza will be required for all uniformed US military personnel, with the immunizations starting in early October, the Department of Defense (DoD) announced yesterday.
In a news release, Army Lt. Col. Wayne Hachey, the department's director of preventive medicine, said vaccination will be mandatory for uniformed personnel and will be available to all military family members who want it.
DoD expects to receive 1 million doses of the vaccine in early October and another 1.7 million doses later in the month, the release said.
First in line for the vaccine will be healthcare workers, deploying troops, those serving on ships and submarines, and new recruits, according to DoD.
"Any place where we take a lot of people, squash them all together and get them nice and close and put them under stressful conditions will get the vaccine," Hachey said.
To distribute the vaccine, he said, the military will use its usual seasonal flu vaccine distribution chain, a system in use for decades.
He noted that a decision is still awaited on whether each person will need one dose or two. "The assumption right now is that people will need two doses, 21 days apart. That may change," he said. Federal officials are awaiting early results of clinical trials for guidance on the number of doses.
DoD already has seasonal flu vaccine and will begin giving the immunizations soon, Hachey said. "That has been our message to immunizers: to try and get as many people as they can immunized against the season flu early."
The civilian immunization program for H1N1 is expected to start in mid October.
Sep 1 DoD press release