Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

DHA’s Vaccine Safety Hubs emphasize safety

Image of Soldier filling a vaccine needle. Staff Sgt. Jay Griggs, medical technician with the 911th Aeromedical Staging Squadron, prepares a vaccine at the Pittsburgh International Airport Air Reserve Station, Pennsylvania. Department of Defense issued vaccinations are used to prevent a variety of diseases that military members may encounter in the course of their duties. (U.S. Air Force photo by Joshua J. Seybert)

Recommended Content:

Seasonal Influenza Vaccine | Health Readiness & Combat Support | Immunization Healthcare | Vaccine-Preventable Diseases

“It’s very, very easy to do vaccines wrong; it’s very hard to do it right.”

When Dr. Bruce McClenathan, medical director of the South Atlantic Region Vaccine Safety Hub for the Defense Health Agency’s Immunization Healthcare Division, teaches courses on vaccine safety, he often makes this statement to his students.

To do it right, according to McClenathan, is to know the exceptions to every rule and the nuances of delivering high-quality immunization health care. Within the Military Health System that job falls on the four regional vaccine safety hubs of the DHA, which are strategically located throughout the U.S.

“The vaccine safety hubs are designed to place immunization experts in the field and assist stakeholders with various needs; this could be recommendations on clinical care, education and training, answering questions on policy, providing recommendations on clinic operations, best practices, vaccine hesitancy, conducting vaccine research, etc.,” said McClenathan. “Our team helps with all things related to vaccines.”

A physician serves as medical director in leading each hub, which includes nurse practitioners, registered nurses, immunization health care specialists, education experts, and research assistants, as well as a hub administrator, each having various areas of responsibility.

Military personnel in a classroom setting
The Immunization Healthcare Division's Pacific Region Vaccine Safety Hub held a two-day Immunization Lifelong Learners Course at Camp Pendleton in San Diego County, California, on Sept. 2-3, 2020 for MHS healthcare professionals. (Photo by David Carbungco)

“For example, the South Atlantic Region Vaccine Safety hub, which is based out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, is responsible for taking care of CENTCOM, SOUTHCOM, and SOCOM, as well as the major commands on Fort Bragg proper, such as the U.S. Army Forces Command, the U.S. Army Special Operation Command, Joint Special Operations Command, and XVIII Airborne Corp. In addition, the hub supports the entire southeastern part of the United States,” he said. “If a stakeholder in any of these Commands or geographic areas has a question or concern about immunizations, we are available to assist and help resolve their issues.”

Behind the scenes, the regional vaccine safety hubs conduct training and quality assurance checks to ensure the delivery of a safe and effective vaccine to the patient. “If you go in to get a vaccine and everything is fine, that means we’ve done our job well,” said McClenathan. “All of the details that a patient doesn’t need to know about vaccines—but your clinic staff who provide it do have to know...we make sure folks are trained.”

While the military medical treatment facilities oversee and manage their day-to-day operations in patient care, such as ordering and managing vaccines, if they run into a problem, the regional immunization health care specialist is there to help. Recently, McClenathan and his team helped an MTF secure enough yellow fever vaccine just before a short-notice deployment of troops; they otherwise would have faced a supply shortage.

“We redistribute vaccines anywhere in the DoD and ensure they go where they are needed so that vaccines don’t go to waste,” he said, adding that by doing so, the hubs save the Department of Defense hundreds of thousands of dollars each year.

Staff from the hub also support the 24/7 vaccine call centerline where clinic staff, patients and other beneficiaries can ask an expert vaccine-related questions.

“Our hubs are critical to the success of our organization and the DoD immunization program as a whole,” said McClenathan. “We are a one-stop shop for all things immunization so that those who do provide the immunizations can do their jobs competently, professionally, and to the standard of care, if not exceeding the standard of care.”

The majority of vaccines do not change frequently, with exception of the flu vaccine that is updated every year to adapt to new virus strains, but vaccine research is evolving, said McClenathan. For example, the Food and Drug Administration recently expanded approval of an HPV vaccine for men and women up to age 45 to prevent certain cancers and diseases; previously the maximum age was 26.

“As more data and research are completed and assimilated, the recommendations for use of a vaccine may change, even though vaccine itself may not be changing,” he said.

The regional vaccine safety hubs also contribute to the overall vaccine research community, especially as it relates to military health beneficiaries. The research topics can vary from genetics to vaccine adverse reactions to the efficacy of vaccines. McClenathan’s team recently completed a five-year clinical trial studying the impact of ibuprofen on a patient’s immune response to the flu vaccine. The results of the study will soon be published in a peer-reviewed journal.

“It’s really never been studied, especially in adults,” he said. “But we give a lot of ibuprofen and we give a lot of vaccines in the military, so we need to know if giving ibuprofen impacts how people respond to the vaccine.”

Currently, all four regional vaccine safety hubs within the DHA are participating in a major study, in collaboration with the federal government’s Infectious Disease Clinical Research Program to assess which form of the flu vaccine is most effective and providing immunity against the virus, whether egg-based, cell-based, or recombinant flu vaccine. “That’s going to be a pivotal study that will change not only which flu vaccine is given in the military but hopefully globally,” said McClenathan.

You also may be interested in...

The Dangers of Dietary Supplements

Video
7/11/2022
The Dangers of Dietary Supplements

Did you know that 75% of service members use at least 1 dietary supplement? Experts from the Uniformed Services University discuss the risks and safety concerns of dietary supplements. Learn more about dietary supplements at www.OPSS.org and The Consortium of Health & Military Performance (CHAMP).

Recommended Content:

Nutritional Fitness | Performance Nutrition: Fuel Your Body and Mind | Health Readiness & Combat Support

What is Performance Nutrition

Video
7/11/2022
What is Performance Nutrition

Learn more about Performance Nutrition and healthy eating habits at the Consortium for Health & Military Performance. https://champ.usuhs.edu/. For more information about the Dietician Approved Fueling stations at your local commissary, go to https://www.commissaries.com/fueling_stations

Recommended Content:

Performance Nutrition: Fuel Your Body and Mind | Health Readiness & Combat Support | Nutritional Fitness

Performance Nutrition: The Best Ways to Eat

Video
7/11/2022
Performance Nutrition: The Best Ways to Eat

USU professor and nutrition specialist, Jonathan Scott PhD, gives advice on eating healthy. Learn more about the Dietician Approved Fueling stations at your local commissary here: https://www.commissaries.com/fueling_stations

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Performance Nutrition: Fuel Your Body and Mind | Nutritional Fitness

TRICARE Flu Vaccine PSA

Video
11/3/2021
TRICARE Flu Vaccine PSA

Flu season is here, and it’s more important than ever to get your flu shot. Especially if you’re very young, very old, or pregnant. Protect yourself, your family, and your community by getting your flu shot today.

Recommended Content:

Seasonal Influenza Vaccine | Immunizations | Get the Flu Vaccine

Flu Season: Staying Healthy

Video
10/13/2021
Flu Season: Staying Healthy

 FLU SEASON IS HERE AND GETTING YOUR FLU VACCINE IS THE BEST WAY TO STOP THE SPREAD.

Recommended Content:

Seasonal Influenza Vaccine | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Immunizations | Seasonal Influenza Resource Center 2022-23

Stay Mission Ready with the Flu Vaccine

Video
10/13/2021
Stay Mission Ready with the Flu Vaccine

FLU SEASON IS HERE, AND THE THREAT OF SERIOUS ILLNESS MAKES IT EVEN MORE IMPORTANT TO GET YOUR FLU VACCINE THIS YEAR.

Recommended Content:

Seasonal Influenza Vaccine | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Immunizations | Seasonal Influenza Resource Center 2022-23

Vaccinations To Your Health

Video
8/9/2021
Vaccinations To Your Health

Join us live with Defense Health Agency and Board Certified Family Nurse Practitioner, Ann Morse, to discuss vaccines, vaccine safety and tips for keeping your military family healthy as the new school year approaches.

Recommended Content:

Immunization Healthcare | Vaccine-Preventable Diseases | Children's Health

MHS Minute May 2021

Video
5/28/2021
MHS Minute May 2021

In this month's MHS Minute, the DHA's commitment to transforming military health continues. The DHA officially established the Tidewater market in SE Virginia, serving over 200,000 patients. The MHS is standing up 19 markets like Tidewater to allow healthcare providers to better meet the needs of their patients by improving coordination between facilities in the area.

Recommended Content:

Military Health System Transformation | Electronic Health Record: MHS GENESIS | Health Readiness & Combat Support | MHS GENESIS

Moments in Military Medicine: Blood Donations on the Battlefield

Video
2/4/2020
Moments in Military Medicine: Blood Donations on the Battlefield

Since January was National Blood Donor Month, learn more about the history of blood donations on the battlefield and the incredible work of the Armed Services Blood Program (ASBP).

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Armed Services Blood Program | Our History | National Museum of Health and Medicine

Measles Myths: The Measles Can Be Life-Threatening

Video
9/30/2019
Measles Myths: The Measles Can Be Life-Threatening

Measles can be life-threatening, especially for children and among people who have a compromised immune system.

Recommended Content:

Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Children's Health | Immunizations | Immunization Healthcare | Vaccine-Preventable Diseases | Measles-Mumps-Rubella

Measles Myths: Hand Washing Alone Won't Prevent Measles

Video
9/23/2019
Measles Myths: Hand Washing Alone Won't Prevent Measles

Hand washing alone will not prevent the spread of measles. Dr. Margaret Ryan, preventive medicine physician, debunks some myths about vaccinations.

Recommended Content:

Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Children's Health | Immunizations | Immunization Healthcare | Vaccine-Preventable Diseases | Measles-Mumps-Rubella

Measles Myths: Vaccines Are Safe

Video
9/17/2019
Measles Myths: Vaccines Are Safe

Vaccine components have been rigorously tested for safety. Dr. Margaret Ryan, preventive medicine physician, debunks some myths about vaccinations.

Recommended Content:

Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Children's Health | Immunizations | Immunization Healthcare | Vaccine-Preventable Diseases | Measles-Mumps-Rubella

Measles Myths: Vaccines Do Not Cause Autism

Video
9/12/2019
Measles Myths: Vaccines Do Not Cause Autism

Vaccines that prevent measles do not cause autism. Dr. Margaret Ryan, preventive medicine physician, debunks some myths about vaccinations.

Recommended Content:

Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Children's Health | Immunizations | Immunization Healthcare | Vaccine-Preventable Diseases | Measles-Mumps-Rubella

Prevent to Protect: Rosarios

Video
8/30/2019
Prevent to Protect: Rosarios

10-year-old Tatiana Rosario has a weakened immune system as a result of her cancer treatment. Growing up, she and her family made sacrifices to keep her safe from disease.

Recommended Content:

Immunization Healthcare | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Immunizations

Prevent to Protect: Barbara and Floriann

Video
8/30/2019
Prevent to Protect: Barbara and Floriann

Barbara’s son Floriann grew up with an immune dysregulation. A Uniformed Services University pathology professor, she’s experienced first hand the importance of vaccines.

Recommended Content:

Immunization Healthcare | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Immunizations
<< < 1 2 > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 2
Refine your search
Last Updated: March 08, 2021

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.