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

Amid COVID-19, seasonal influenza still a threat to force readiness

Hospital Corpsman administers a flu shot to a navy officer. The flu shot helps DoD members maintain both mission readiness and wellness. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Marc Cuenca/Released)

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Influenza Summary and Reports | Immunization Healthcare | Vaccine-Preventable Diseases | Influenza, Southern Hemisphere

The COVID-19 pandemic has emerged as the most significant public health emergency in this century. As individuals around the globe race for treatment options and take preventive measures against COVID-19, those living in the Southern Hemisphere are also preparing for another virus – seasonal influenza. The flu typically takes hold from April through September in the Southern Hemisphere and impacts service members and their beneficiaries on military orders in places south of the equator, such as New Zealand, Australia, southern parts of Africa and South America as well as Indonesia.

Before 2020, a Federal Drug Administration-approved Southern Hemisphere influenza vaccine was not available for military personnel or beneficiaries. Service members received the Northern Hemisphere flu vaccine during the Northern Hemisphere season, which runs October to March.

Once the FDA approved a Southern Hemisphere influenza vaccine, the combatant commands quickly engaged with the Office of Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs’ Health Readiness Policy and Oversight and Defense Health Agency to get access for their personnel.

Through joint efforts by the CCMDs, Defense Logistics Agency, U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency, and DHA’s Immunization Healthcare Division, service members and their beneficiaries in the Southern Hemisphere can access the FDA-approved, U.S.-labeled Southern Hemisphere vaccine Fluzone®.

“The vaccination will be made available at designated medical treatment facilities in May 2020,” according to Tara Reavey, chief of policy and program management for DHA's Immunization Healthcare Division.

Access to both Northern and Southern hemisphere influenza vaccines supports troop readiness since different flu strains circulate in each hemisphere. “Symptoms of the Northern Hemisphere and Southern Hemisphere seasonal influenzas are similar,” said Dr. Jay Montgomery, medical director of the Immunization Healthcare Division’s North Atlantic Region Vaccine Safety Hub. “Typical flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, and muscle aches, but in severe cases may result in hospitalization or death.”

However, Montgomery added, “the common strains identified in the Northern and Southern Hemisphere differ about 60% of the time.” He said the challenge to support force readiness became apparent as DoD members experienced flu-like symptoms when traveling to the Southern Hemisphere flu zone after receiving the Northern Hemisphere vaccine.

“Obviously if we don't have the right virus strains in the vaccine, people are not going to get protection against those strains,” said Montgomery. “Over the years, a substantial number of influenza-like illnesses have occurred among service members and other DoD personnel participating in multinational exercises, such as in Australia, every year,” he said, adding that a vaccine targeting Southern Hemisphere influenza should result in a decrease of influenza-like illnesses there.

The DHA-Interim Procedures Memorandum 20-002 for Southern Hemisphere influenza was published March 20 and “aligns with Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention recommendations to use the appropriate influenza vaccine,” said Reavey. Specifically, Southern Hemisphere influenza vaccination is required for all active duty, reserve component, National Guard members (and recommended for all other beneficiaries), permanently or temporarily assigned for at least 14 contiguous days between April 1 and Sept. 30 to an area designated as a Southern Hemisphere influenza zone by the World Health Organization.

U.S. government civilian employees and family members of personnel who are living in or conducting a permanent change of station to the Southern Hemisphere are authorized to receive the Southern Hemisphere vaccine. In order to develop adequate immunity, personnel traveling to the Southern Hemisphere between April and September should be vaccinated at least two weeks before they go to the region, if possible.

DoD personnel traveling to or residing in the Northern Hemisphere for at least 14 days between October and March and who have not received the current seasonal Northern Hemisphere influenza vaccine are required to receive a Northern Hemisphere vaccine in accordance with the most current DHA-IPM for the Northern Hemisphere seasonal influenza vaccination program.

The DHA-IPM states that individuals may receive vaccines for both the Northern Hemisphere flu and the Southern Hemisphere flu in a year span, but the immunizations will need to be given at least 28 days apart. Service members will not need to receive a flu vaccine for either hemisphere when traveling to the area during an offseason and if in the region for less than 14 days.

For more information on the Southern Hemisphere influenza vaccine, please visit the Military Health System Influenza webpage.

You also may be interested in...

How Can Vaccine and Antibody Studies Move So Quickly and Still Be Safe?

Video
11/3/2020
How Can Vaccine and Antibody Studies Move So Quickly and Still Be Safe?

This video provides a detailed overview of the processes that have been implemented to accelerate the pace of the COVID-19 vaccine and antibody studies, and what is being done to assure safety.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine

MHS Minute: Heroes Behind the Mask

Video
10/8/2020
Image of MHS Minute Carousel

In the face of a global threat, healthcare heroes across the MHS have donned their mask, and served on the front line of the battle against COVID-19. Tune in to this month's "MHS Minute" to learn more!

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Heroes Behind the Mask

The Military Health System Celebrates Labor Day

Video
9/4/2020
The Military Health System Celebrates Labor Day

Labor Day pays tribute to the American workforce. This year, we pay tribute to the Military Health System Workforce.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

MHS Minute: A Call to Action for Convalescent Plasma Donation

Video
8/24/2020
Image of MHS Minute Carousel

Have you recovered from COVID-19, or tested positive for antibodies? Consider donating convalescent plasma. For eligibility requirements, and to find a donor center near you, go to https://www.militaryblood.dod.mil/Donors/COVID-19andBloodDonation.aspx

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Convalescent Plasma Collection Program | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Armed Services Blood Program

Convalescent Plasma Donation PSA featuring Lt. General Place

Video
7/10/2020
Image of Lt. Gen Place

Lt. Gen Place asks servicemembers DoD-wide to consider dontating plasma in the fight against COVID-19.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Convalescent Plasma Collection Program | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Armed Services Blood Program

MHS Minute: DoD Focused on COVID-19 Testing and Treatment

Video
6/25/2020
Image of MHS Minute Carousel

Have you recovered from COVID-19, or tested positive for antibodies? Consider donating convalescent plasma. To learn how, go to https://www.militaryblood.dod.mil/

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

MHS Minute: Military Leading the Charge on COVID-19 Research

Video
5/28/2020
Image of MHS Minute Carousel

The military continues to serve on the front lines of research and treatment in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Tune in to the MHS Minute to learn more.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Transport Vent Tutorial (ParaPAC) (March 25, 2020)

Video
5/11/2020
DHA Seal

Transport Vent Tutorial - ParaPAC

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

Multi-Dimensional Approach To Intubation In The Setting Of COVID-19 (April 1, 2020)

Video
5/11/2020
DHA Seal

In this video, a doctor and nurse will talk you through preparing to intubate a patient. At the end of the video we highlight some special considerations for intubation in the context of COVID.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

Airway Pressure Release Ventilation (APRV) (April 17, 2020)

Video
5/11/2020
DHA Seal

This video will explain the basics of Airway Pressure Release Ventilation, an option for mechanical ventilation, that is helpful as an oxygen salvage therapy for patients with Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS).

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

Sedation and Analgesia in the ICU during COVID-19 (March 31, 2020)

Video
5/11/2020
DHA Seal

This video is intended to assist healthcare providers with the care of critically ill patients only. It is to be used as a guide ONLY for patients who have breathing tubes and are mechanically ventilated (on breathing machines). It will introduce you to sedative and analgesic medications that are used in the intensive care unit setting only. It will provide recommendations for use of sedation and analgesia in standard settings, but it will also provide recommendations for use in resource limited

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

Shock Basics for the Non-Intensivist (March 19, 2020)

Video
5/11/2020
DHA Seal

Shock Basics for the Non-Intensivist...in the age of COVID-19.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

Ventilator Basics - Part 2 (ACPC and PS) (March 25, 2020)

Video
5/11/2020
DHA Seal

This video is an introduction to pressure control and pressure support ventilator settings. If you have not yet viewed 'Vent Basics for Non-Intensivists (ACVC/VAC)", please watch that video first. This video is not intended to be all encompassing. It is intended to educate non-intensivists on basic vent settings and vent mechanics.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome Lecture (April 10, 2020)

Video
5/11/2020
DHA Seal

In this lecture, the topic or Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome is reviewed. Specific discussion on diagnosis and treatment including lung protective strategies are discussed.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

IV Vasoactive Medication Basics for the Non Intensivist (March 19, 2020)

Video
5/11/2020
DHA Seal

This video provides a refresher/introduction to the basics of inotropes and vasopressors that may be helpful in the context of treating COVID-19 patients. It is not intended to be all-encompassing.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit
<< < 1 2 3 4 5 > >> 
Showing results 31 - 45 Page 3 of 5

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.