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

Annual flu vaccine remains a health priority during COVID-19 era

Image of Military personnel getting flu shot. Navy Rear Adm. Anne Swap, National Capital Region director, receives her annual influenza vaccine at the Fort Belvoir Community Hospital. She accompanied Army Lt. Gen. Ronald Place, director of the Defense Health Agency, to the facility as he, too, received his annual flu shot.

Recommended Content:

Immunization Healthcare Division | Vaccine-Preventable Diseases | Public Health | Coronavirus & the MHS Response | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Seasonal Influenza Vaccine

Active duty service members who received the flu vaccination anywhere other than a military treatment facility should follow their service rules to ensure the flu shot is annotated in their health records.

With the novel coronavirus still in circulation, "We don't know how this flu season will impact us," said Army Lt. Gen. Ron Place, director of the Defense Health Agency. "We do know that getting your influenza vaccine is a critical step to keep you and your family healthy."

Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness. It can be spread to others up to about 6 feet away, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The flu is spread mainly by droplets from sick people when they cough, sneeze, or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people nearby, or they might be inhaled into the lungs.

The flu can be associated with serious illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths ­ particularly among older adults, very young children, pregnant women, and people of all ages with certain chronic medical conditions.

As the CDC notes, flu vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination. These antibodies provide protection against infection from the viruses that are used to make the vaccine.

Army Lt. Gen. Ronald Place getting his flu vaccine
Army Lt. Gen. Ronald Place, director of the Defense Health Agency, receives his flu vaccine at the Fort Belvoir Community Hospital. 

An annual flu vaccination is mandatory for active-duty service members, notes Dr. Jay Montgomery, medical director of the Defense Health Agency's Immunization Healthcare Division North Atlantic Region Vaccine Safety Hub. He and other health care experts recommend that, generally, everyone six months and older should also get it.

"Adding influenza vaccination to social distancing and masking will lower your risk of contracting two potentially serious respiratory diseases close together – which could very much worsen your outcome," Montgomery said.

"Getting the vaccine also means you're also less likely to potentially expose yourself to COVID-19 by sitting in an urgent care facility or emergency room waiting to have your flu symptoms treated," he added.

Children should be immunized even if schools don’t fully reopen, Montgomery said. "School isn't the only place where children can come in contact with viruses and bacteria that cause them to get sick," he said. "Playgrounds and grocery stores are also examples of exposure locations."

In the Department of Defense, the services annually review and vote on the list for vaccine flu distribution. Priority goes to overseas locations, ships afloat, and deployed personnel. When those locations are fulfilled, distribution is prioritized by each individual service for delivery to their locations in the continental United States, in support of all active and reserve locations. 

When the vaccine arrives at a military medical treatment facility, the commander of the installation has the authority to determine priority for receiving it. Learn more about DoD flu vaccine availability on the Military Health System website.

If you want to get a flu shot before it’s available at your MTF, the vaccine is covered by TRICARE with no cost-shares or copayments as long as it's administered by a pharmacist at a participating network pharmacy or by a TRICARE-authorized provider. Learn more about the TRICARE benefit and the flu vaccine at the TRICARE website.

You also may be interested in...

Decision Brief Pediatric Health Care Services

Presentation
8/10/2017

Defense Health Board briefing about Pediatric Health Care Services

Recommended Content:

Public Health

Pediatric Care in the Military Health System

Presentation
11/1/2016

Pediatric Care in the Military Health System briefing to the Defense Health Board, Nov. 1, 2016.

Recommended Content:

Health Care Administration & Operations | Public Health

Pediatric Health Care Services

Presentation
11/1/2016

Pediatric Health Care Services briefing to the Defense Health Board, Nov. 1, 2016.

Recommended Content:

Public Health

Deployment Health Centers Review

Presentation
8/9/2016

Recommended Content:

Public Health | Health Care Administration & Operations

Review of the Defense Health Board’s Combat Trauma Lessons Learned from Military Operations of 2001-2013 Report

Presentation
8/9/2016

The in-depth information and recommendations in the report enable [the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs] to consider approaches to enhance Combat Casualty Care.

Recommended Content:

Public Health | Research and Innovation | Health Readiness & Combat Support

Joint Trauma System

Presentation
8/9/2016

Recommended Content:

Public Health | Research and Innovation

Reconstruction and Restoration of the Genitourinary System after Contemporary Battlefield Urotrauma

Presentation
8/9/2016

Recommended Content:

Public Health | Health Readiness & Combat Support

Pediatric Clinical Preventive Services

Presentation
8/9/2016

Recommended Content:

Research and Innovation | Public Health

Perspectives of a Deployed Combat Hospital Commander

Presentation
2/10/2016

Recommended Content:

Health Care Administration & Operations | Public Health

Naval Center for Combat and Operational Stress Control

Presentation
2/10/2016

Recommended Content:

Public Health | Health Care Administration & Operations

Decision Brief NBH Subcommittee Automated Neuropsychological Assessment Metrics 4 Tasking

Presentation
11/9/2015

Decision Brief: Neurological/Behavioral Health Subcommittee Automated Neuropsychological Assessment Metrics 4 Tasking

Recommended Content:

Public Health

6th Medical Group Overview and Mental Health Suicides PTSD and VA Collaboration

Presentation
11/9/2015

6th Medical Group Overview and Mental Health/Suicides/Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Veterans Affairs Collaboration

Recommended Content:

Public Health

Neurological Behavioral Health Subcommittee Update

Presentation
8/20/2015

Neurological/Behavioral Health Subcommittee Update

Recommended Content:

Public Health

Biomedical Innovations for Infectious Diseases and Military Psychiatry and Neuroscience

Presentation
8/20/2015

Recommended Content:

Research and Innovation | Public Health

USAMRIID Biosafety Biosecurity Biosurety and Ebola Response Support

Presentation
8/20/2015

U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Disease Biosafety/Biosecurity/Biosurety and Ebola Response Support

Recommended Content:

Public Health
<< < 1 2 3 > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 3
Refine your search
Last Updated: September 01, 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.