Back to Top Skip to main content

MHS emphasizes importance of vaccinations

Healthcare worker giving vaccine to soldier; both wearing masks Navy Seaman Jared Doherty administers a vaccine to a Marine with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit during an exercise at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, to increase theater force health protection readiness. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Patrick Crosley)

Recommended Content:

TRICARE Health Program | Coronavirus | Immunization Healthcare

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted everyday routines, including keeping up with health care appointments for non-emergency needs such as vaccinations. And while physically attending day care, secondary school, and university campuses this fall remains undecided in many locales, Military Health System immunization experts recommend that parents start thinking about their children's vaccination requirements now.

These MHS experts will answer beneficiaries' questions about vaccinations during a "Chat with TRICARE" real-time event, 3-4 p.m. EDT Thursday, July 23, on the TRICARE Facebook page. Participating are Air Force Col. (Dr.) Tonya S. Rans, chief of the Defense Health Agency's Immunization Healthcare Division; Air Force Lt. Col. (Dr.) Ruth Brenner, division deputy chief; and Ann Morse, a family nurse  practitioner and registered nurse with the division's North Atlantic Region Vaccine Safety Hub’s Satellite Office at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, Virginia.

"To provide the best protection and prevent disease, vaccines are designed to be administered in a certain number of doses over a certain period of time," said Catherine Skerrett, an advance practice registered nurse and family nurse practitioner with the division's Central Region Vaccine Safety Hub.

"When a vaccine dose is missed, a person may not be fully protected," she said.

For those beneficiaries who may have missed vaccine doses during the pandemic, "a catch-up vaccine schedule provides the best protection against disease as quickly as possible," Skerrett said. "Working with your provider, this schedule is individualized."

The catch-up vaccine schedule is based on the number of doses in a series, any doses already received, the person's age at previous dose and current age, and the minimum interval that's usually permitted between doses, she said.

Skerrett also notes that immunization requirements for enrolling in day care and K-12 schools are determined by each state, following recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Colleges and universities may require immunizations in addition to these state mandates, she said.

For example, among the vaccines that some states require are for hepatitis A, which is a two-dose series, and hepatitis B, a three-dose series. Both hepatitis A and B are serious diseases caused by a virus that attacks the liver.

In addition, 24 states require the meningococcal vaccine for incoming college students, Skerrett said. Meningococcal disease is caused by a bacteria that's spread through respiratory and throat secretions, according to the CDC. It can lead to serious and even deadly infections of the brain, spinal cord, and bloodstream.

Diseases other than COVID-19 "have not gone away, and we need to keep preventing those other infections by immunizing ourselves and our children,” said Army Col. (Dr.) Brian D. Robertson, chief of Allergy and Immunology Service at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. The service began a drive-up immunization clinic in May to serve beneficiaries during the pandemic.

The clinic was set up as a temporary tent structure in a parking lot to prevent the possible spread of COVID-19 within the hospital. It offers all immunizations typically given in the indoor clinic.

At other MTFs, the primary care clinics are reviewing data to see which beneficiaries' immunizations are overdue, and developing plans to reach out to schedule a time and location to provide immunizations safely, said Regina Julian, chief of the Defense Health Agency's Healthcare Optimization Division.

“Ensuring our pediatric population is up-to-date on their needed immunizations is a major DHA priority," Julian said. She recommends beneficiaries check their MTF's webpage or social media page for any updates. In addition, she encourages beneficiaries to contact their MTFs directly by calling the appointing center or immunizations clinic, or by sending a secure message to their health care team to find out the process for getting caught up on immunizations.

For beneficiaries interested in participating in the live Q&A, MHS experts offer the following guidelines:

  • Don't post personally identifiable information.
  • Don't refer to any specific health conditions or names of other individuals.
  • Stay on topic, be respectful, and tell the truth.
  • Add value to the conversation.
  • Don't spam by sending irrelevant or unsolicited messages.

More information about participating in the live chat can be found on the MHS social media webpage.

You also may be interested in...

MHS leaders discuss future of military medicine during AMSUS panel

Article
12/9/2020
Military personnel, wearing masks, standing in a line in front of flags

For Dingle, readiness is the key issue during the transition.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Convalescent Plasma Collection Program | MHS Transformation

DOD Announces COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Plan

Article
12/9/2020
Soldier wearing mask, sitting in front of computer monitors

The Department prioritizes DOD personnel to receive the vaccine based on CDC guidance.

Recommended Content:

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

Malmstrom AFB airmen battle COVID-19, execute the mission

Article
12/8/2020
Soldier wearing protective gear leaning into a car to chat with other soldier

"The whole point of public health is to prevent any type of spread."

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Pandemic underscores MHS’ need for reform, McCaffery tells AMSUS

Article
12/8/2020
Army soldier gets nose swab

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the MHS had embarked on reforms and initiatives to improve its medical support to the armed services.

Recommended Content:

MHS Transformation | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Operation Warp Speed Vaccine Trials | Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine

DOD continues to increase COVID-19 test capacity

Article
12/7/2020
Technician wearing gloves putting a sample into a container

In March as the first wave of the pandemic spread, there were only 15 testing sites able to perform 1,000 tests per week.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Military medicine confronts an invisible enemy

Article
12/4/2020
Medical personnel set up in an outside military tent

The collective response to the pandemic underscored the MHS reputation for innovation, with practical applications beyond military medicine.

Recommended Content:

Combat Support | Warrior Care | Public Health | Coronavirus | Heroes Behind the Mask | December Toolkit

DOD experts provide COVID-19 update at Pentagon

Article
11/30/2020
Image of Dr. Payne

The Pentagon will be transitioning to Health Condition Bravo-Plus.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Minimize COVID-19 holiday spread with small gatherings, mask wearing

Article
11/25/2020
Soldiers standing in a line, wearing masks

The holiday season is upon us, and so is a drastic rise in coronavirus cases.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

NMRTU Everett Hospitalman makes a difference

Article
11/24/2020
Technician wearing a mask, giving a shot to a soldier

For much of 2020, Scott has also done her share and more to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Heroes Behind the Mask | Public Health

Army conducts commercial aircraft decontamination efficacy test

Article
11/24/2020
Man wearing mask, looking at ceiling of an airplane

Two commercial sprayers and two commercial liquid disinfectants will be tried in different combinations on surfaces in the passenger area to gauge effectiveness.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Navy PA continues to care for COVID-19 caregivers

Article
11/19/2020
Three soldiers, wearing masks, demonstrating a hearing test

As a PAt, Osborn works hand-in-hand with supervising physicians and surgeons.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

NICoE & ISC Network maintain TBI care during COVID-19

Article
11/19/2020
Image of United States map with locations noted

The Network leveraged their geographic distribution to help each other quickly adapt to changing times.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Traumatic Brain Injury

San Antonio volunteers sought for Warp Speed vaccine trials

Article
11/18/2020
Woman typing on laptop

DOD sites are open on a voluntary basis to Military Health System beneficiaries.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus

Army combat medic earns U.S. citizenship, plans to continue serving

Article
11/18/2020
Two men wearing masks, one in a car, one leaning in the car

The native of Brazil is part of the COVID-19 testing team.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Heroes Behind the Mask

Army doctors provide COVID-19 safety tips for the holiday season

Article
11/17/2020
Soldiers wearing masks, looking at flight information in airport

Celebrating the holidays during a pandemic may bring additional challenges for people this year.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | November Toolkit | November Holidays and Observances
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 31 - 45 Page 3 of 21

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.