Medical group to fight flu season

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Anthony J. Hyatt
  • 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
As the 2011-2012 influenza season approaches, the 39th Medical Group prepares Team Incirlik with vaccines and tips to fight the flu.

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and can sometimes lead to death. In the Northern hemisphere, winter is the time for flu, but the exact timing and duration of flu seasons vary, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

According to the CDC website, flu vaccine shipments began in August and will continue throughout September and October until all vaccines are distributed. The vaccine protects against three types of viruses: an influenza A virus, an influenza B virus and the H1N1 virus.

"We have coordinated with unit deployment managers for times for their unit to visit the MDG for their flu vaccination. The plan is to vaccinate our active-duty Airmen and high-risk patients first and then open it to the rest of the base," said Staff Sgt. Jwon Wiggins, 39th Medical Operations Squadron aerospace medical technician. The 39th MDG will announce the dates they will begin administering the vaccine.

"Vaccination is the primary method for preventing influenza and its complications," said Wiggins.

Also, individuals should use everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs. Below are some tips from the CDC:
· Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. Throw the tissue in the trash after use.
· Wash hands often with soap and water.
· Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.
· Avoid close contact with sick people.
· If sick with flu-like illness, indivuals are recommended to stay home for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone, except to get medical care or for other necessities.
· While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.

In addition, individuals should take flu antiviral drugs if prescribed by doctor, states the CDC. Antiviral drugs can make an illness milder and shorten the time a person is sick. They may also prevent serious flu complications.

"Flu seasons have the potential to impact Department of Defense force readiness and mission," added Wiggins. "In the U.S., influenza results in more than 25 million reported cases, more than 150,000 hospitalizations due to serious complications and more than 30,000 deaths annually."

For more information on the flu, call the base clinic at DSN 676-6666 or visit

Information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web site was used in this story.