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Press Release

ERMC Public Affairs Office
DSN 371-3317/3049
Tel. 06221-17-3317/3049
Advisory No. 20101214-1

Nov. 1, 2010

‘Though mild, flu season yet to hit peak
Vaccine readily available at Army health clinics

HEIDELBERG, Germany – Though the number of confirmed cases of influenza has been below average this year, health officials urge those eligible to get vaccinated.

“Historically, the peak of the flu season comes in January and February,” said Col. CarlHeinz Stokes, Force Health Protection Officer for the U.S Army Europe Regional Medical Command.  He urged early vaccination, because it does not become effective until one to two weeks after it is administered.

Vaccine is still available for those who need it.

According to Stokes, “More than 95 percent of Soldiers have been vaccinated.” 

The focus now, he said, was on families, school age children and high risk beneficiaries.

“Children in school are at the highest risk of contracting influenza and should receive the vaccine. The vaccine is also mandatory for students attending Department Of Defense schools,” Stokes said.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the flu vaccine is updated every year to combat the flu viruses that research indicates are most likely to cause illness during the upcoming season. The 2010-2011 flu vaccine is being made in the same way as seasonal vaccines have been made for decades. It will protect against the 2009 H1N1 virus that caused so much illness last season, and two other influenza viruses (an H3N2 virus and an influenza B virus).

High risk categories now include the following:

  • All children 6-23 months*
  • Adults 50 years and older
  • All women who are pregnant during the influenza season
  • Persons 2-49 years old* with underlying chronic medical conditions.  These include in part: pulmonary illnesses, such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis, or asthma; cardiovascular illnesses, such as congestive heart failure; chronic metabolic diseases, including diabetes mellitus; renal dysfunction; sickle cell disease; or immunosuppression (including immunosuppression caused by medications or by human immunodeficiency virus [HIV])
  • Children 6 months-18 years on chronic aspirin therapy, for rare conditions such as Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis or coronary artery abnormalities caused by Kawasaki’s disease
  • Health care workers involved in direct patient care
  • Out-of-home caregivers and household contacts of children less than 6 months or any other high risk person


Col. Evelyn Barraza, ERMC Preventive Medicine Consultant said everyone can prevent spreading of the influenza-like ilnness by following these simple steps:

  • Avoid close contact.
    Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
    If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness.  Your employer may need a doctor’s note for an excused absence. Remember: Keeping your distance from others may protect them from getting sick. When you are sick or have flu symptoms, stay home, get plenty of rest, and check with a health care provider as needed. Common symptoms of the flu include:  fever (usually high), headache, extreme tiredness, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches, and nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, (much more common among children than adults).
  • Cover your mouth and nose.
    Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick. Then, clean your hands, and do so every time you cough or sneeze.
  • Clean your hands.
    Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs.  When available, wash your hands -- with soap and warm water -- then rub your hands vigorously together and scrub all surfaces. Wash for 15 to 20 seconds. It is the soap combined with the scrubbing action that helps dislodge and remove germs.  When soap and water are not available, alcohol-based disposable hand wipes or gel sanitizers may be used. You can find them in most supermarkets and drugstores. If using a gel, rub the gel in your hands until they are dry. The gel doesn't need water to work; the alcohol in the gel kills germs that cause colds and the flu.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
    Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • At schools, educators, staff, and parents can help slow the spread of colds and flu. Always remind students to:
             - cough or sneeze into a tissue and throw it away;
             - cover up with a sleeve if you don't have a tissue, and
             - clean hands often.
  • Get plenty of sleep.
  • Engage in physical activity.
  • Manage stress.
  • Drink plenty of water, eat healthy foods, limit alcohol consumption and don’t smoke.