Skip to main content

Military Health System

Important Notice about Pharmacy Operations

Change Healthcare Cyberattack Impact on MHS Pharmacy Operations. Read the statement to learn more. 

Flu Vaccination Rates are Running High Across the Military This Year

Image of a woman giving someone an injection on the arm. Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Kindal Kidd, from Neodesha, Kansas, assigned to USS Gerald R. Ford's (CVN 78) medical department, administers a flu shot to a sailor in the ship's hangar bay. Ford's medical department is vaccinating the entire crew against the flu virus to ensure the crew remains medically ready as the ship prepares to go out to sea. (Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Angel Thuy Jaskuloski)

Flu vaccination rates among service members are running far higher this year compared to the same period during previous years.

Its a positive sign that military health officials say could reduce the amount of illness impacting individuals and limit the strain on local hospitals and clinics that are already very busy due to the ongoing pandemic.

So far, about 64% of active-duty service members have received a flu shot. At this same time last year, the rate was 44 percent and in 2019 the rate was 52%, health officials said on Nov. 29.

"Immunization activities throughout the Military Health System are doing a great job this season getting influenza vaccine in the arms of service members, but we aren't quite to the finish line yet," says Army Lt. Col. Christopher Ellison, a doctor of pharmacy, the Defense Health Agency's operations director for the Immunization Healthcare Division; and the military lead for the Department of Defense's Influenza Vaccination Program. "We still have some service members who need to get vaccinated in order to reach the Defense Department's force-wide goal of 90% vaccinations by Jan. 15."

Several factors may be influencing the relatively high rates of flu vaccination to date.

The COVID-19 pandemic may have increased awareness about the importance of the flu vaccine, prompting some service members to get their shots early in the season. (Individuals can get their flu shot and a COVID-19 vaccination or booster shot on the same visit to a hospital or clinic).

The pace of flu vaccinations is also higher because the vaccines, which the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) distributes to all military hospitals and clinics, arrived earlier than in previous seasons.

In 2020, large supplies of flu vaccines did not begin arriving at military health facilities until September, and it was not until December that a vast majority of the vaccines were distributed.

This year, supplies began going out in August, and more than 90% were shipped and ready for patients by October, when the flu season usually begins. (Typically, the flu season runs October-May and peaks between December-February.)

"Our military hospitals and clinics are fantastic at mobilizing flu drives when they have vaccine on hand, and DLA did an outstanding job of getting vaccine out to the military hospitals and clinics this year," Ellison said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend everyone 6 months and older get an annual flu vaccine. But people 65 and older or with underlying conditions, pregnant women, infants, and young children are at higher risk of developing serious flu complications. It's particularly important for those populations to get their shot.

All military members are required to get an annual flu shot. Check with TRICARE for locations and dates where flu vaccines may be available for service members. For all Military Health System beneficiaries, shots are available at military medical treatment facilities (MTFs) and at military installations.

All military health system beneficiaries can use an online portal to schedule a flu shot or a COVID-19 booster shot. The portal, known as the Defense Health Agency Appointing Portal, or DAP, began supporting the vaccine efforts on Oct. 11.

More information on the flu vaccine is available here.

You also may be interested in...

Topic
Jan 9, 2024

Vaccines

Vaccines are critical tools in the health care arsenal, with a long, successful history of fighting or eradicating disease. Vaccines have saved more lives around the world than any other medical invention.

Topic
Nov 28, 2023

Immunizations

Vaccines are important tools that help protect individual health and the overall health of a population.

Article Around MHS
Oct 6, 2023

U.S. Navy Capt. Brown’s Road to Excellence Leads to Inspire

U.S. Navy Capt. Cecilia Brown, a maxillofacial oral surgeon at Naval Hospital Jacksonville Dental Clinic, provides care for a patient. Brown, a native of Sparta, Georgia, is the first African American female to complete the U.S. Navy Oral and Maxillofacial Surgical Residency program and the only African American oral surgeon in the Navy. Brown says, “Life is like a 4-way stop.” (U.S. Navy photo by Deidre Smith, Naval Hospital Jacksonville/Released)

For Naval Hospital Jacksonville Director for Dental Services, U.S. Navy Capt. Cecilia Brown, demanding excellence amid adversity has been a charging force in her story of success. Brown is the first African American female to complete the U.S. Navy Oral and Maxillofacial Surgical Residency. This has also positioned her to be the only African American ...

Topic
Oct 4, 2023

Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness

Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness is your ability to sustain your health and wellness and facilitate restoration to meet medical and dental standards for fitness for duty, return to duty, and medical readiness.

Article Around MHS
Sep 29, 2023

Real Life Falls Are Not a Laughing Matter: Protect your Body, Ego

Each year thousands of military personnel injure themselves because of falls from vehicles and equipment, tripping over objects, and slipping on hazardous surfaces like ice, snow, or water. Injuries include lacerations requiring stitches, concussions or head injury, sprained ankles, wrists or hands, and broken bones. These often require ER visits and can result in temporary disability and lost duty time for many days or even months. (Defense Centers for Public Health-Aberdeen graphic illustration by Joyce Kopatch)

Cartoons typically portray slips or falls as comical accidents. But falls are no laughing matter. Falls often cause injuries that require emergency room visits for injuries such as lacerations requiring stitches, concussions or head injury, sprained ankles, wrists or hands, or broken bones. Learn how to prevent fall-related injuries.

Last Updated: October 30, 2023
Follow us on Instagram Follow us on LinkedIn Follow us on Facebook Follow us on X Follow us on YouTube Sign up on GovDelivery