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...

Ventilator Basics (ACVC) (March 19, 2020)

Video
5/11/2020
DHA Seal

Ventilator basics (one mode) for non-intensivists

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

Acid Base for the Non-intensivist (March 21, 2020)

Video
5/11/2020
DHA Seal

This video will teach you the etiologies for the various acid-base disorders as well as teach you how to interpret an ABG with a focus on metabolic acidosis and mixed disorders. This will teach you little to nothing about buffering, organic chemistry, biochemistry, etc. This is for practical application at the bedside.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

Ventilator Tutorial V500/PB840 Drager (April 10, 2020)

Video
5/11/2020
DHA Seal

Ventilator assembly and input of settings for two common ICU ventilators.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

ICU Nursing Series: Assembling Pressure Tubing (March 31, 2020)

Video
5/11/2020
DHA Seal

This video will review how to assemble pressure tubing to transduce pressures and waveforms from arterial lines and central lines. Connection to an ICU monitor with zeroing is also reviewed.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

Awakening Trials, Breathing Trials, and Extubation (March 27, 2020)

Video
5/11/2020
DHA Seal

This video covers safety screens and failure criteria for Spontaneous Awakening Trials (SATs) and Spontaneous Breathing Trials (SBTs). These together form the ABCs of daily care of ICU patients on vents (Airway and Breathing Coordination). Additionally, it covers the criteria that should be met prior to attempting extubation.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

Sepsis In The Age of COVID-19 (April 10, 2020)

Video
5/11/2020
DHA Seal

This video will review diagnosis and management of sepsis with some clarifications/alterations that apply during the COVID pandemic. This video is not all inclusive. It is meant as a refresher for non-intensivists.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

BAMCheroes appreciation

Video
4/29/2020
DHA Seal

Our community has been a great source of support! Check out some of the positive feedback Brooke Army Medical Center has received for our incredible healthcare professionals.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

MHS Minute - Military Medicine: On the Front Lines of COVID-19

Video
4/24/2020
The MHS Minute, Special Edition: COVID-19

Agencies across the federal government are partnering up to combat COVID-19. Find out how the Military Health System is doing its part to support the U.S. response to this pandemic, while ensuring our Service members remain ready.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

Video Message from LTG Ronald J. Place, MD

Video
4/24/2020
DHA Seal

Thank you for continuing to do your part to help flatten the curve

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

Stay Home Slide Show

Video
4/10/2020
DHA Seal

Slide show of photos from BAMC's #stayhome campaign

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

MHS Minute Combatting COVID 19

Video
3/30/2020
The MHS Minute, Special Edition: COVID-19

Agencies across the federal government are partnering up to combat COVID-19. Find out how the Military Health System is doing its part to support the U.S. response to this pandemic, while ensuring our Service members remain ready.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

Measles Myths: The Measles Can Be Life-Threatening

Video
9/30/2019
Measles Myths: The Measles Can Be Life-Threatening

Measles can be life-threatening, especially for children and among people who have a compromised immune system.

Recommended Content:

Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Children's Health | Immunizations | Immunization Healthcare | Vaccine-Preventable Diseases | Measles-Mumps-Rubella

Measles Myths: Hand Washing Alone Won't Prevent Measles

Video
9/23/2019
Measles Myths: Hand Washing Alone Won't Prevent Measles

Hand washing alone will not prevent the spread of measles. Dr. Margaret Ryan, preventive medicine physician, debunks some myths about vaccinations.

Recommended Content:

Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Children's Health | Immunizations | Immunization Healthcare | Vaccine-Preventable Diseases | Measles-Mumps-Rubella

Measles Myths: Vaccines Are Safe

Video
9/17/2019
Measles Myths: Vaccines Are Safe

Vaccine components have been rigorously tested for safety. Dr. Margaret Ryan, preventive medicine physician, debunks some myths about vaccinations.

Recommended Content:

Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Children's Health | Immunizations | Immunization Healthcare | Vaccine-Preventable Diseases | Measles-Mumps-Rubella

Measles Myths: Vaccines Do Not Cause Autism

Video
9/12/2019
Measles Myths: Vaccines Do Not Cause Autism

Vaccines that prevent measles do not cause autism. Dr. Margaret Ryan, preventive medicine physician, debunks some myths about vaccinations.

Recommended Content:

Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Children's Health | Immunizations | Immunization Healthcare | Vaccine-Preventable Diseases | Measles-Mumps-Rubella
<< < 1 2 3 4 5 > >> 
Showing results 46 - 60 Page 4 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.