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...

Genetic sequence data for SARS-CoV-2

Infographic
6/5/2020
Infographic describing how DoD was able to conduct genome sequencing on the COVID-19 virus

Genetic sequence data for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes #COVID19, plays a vital role in force health protection efforts within the DoD. To jumpstart sequencing efforts, the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch's Global Emerging Infections Surveillance and Response applied a collaborative approach to sequencing capabilities. Resulting sequence data will provide critical information about transmission patterns, track diagnostic effectiveness, and guide the development and evaluation of medical countermeasures.

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Coronavirus | Global Emerging Infections Surveillance

TRICARE Maternity Policy Changes 2019

Infographic
4/10/2019
This infographic discusses updates to TRICARE's maternity benefits

This infographic discusses updates to TRICARE's maternity benefits

Recommended Content:

TRICARE Health Program | Women's Health

How a Drug Becomes Covered by TRICARE 2019

Infographic
4/10/2019
TRICARE follows a step-by-step process to determine what drugs it will cover and how to categorize them

This infographic outlines the process TRICARE follows to determine which drugs it will cover, and how to categorize them.

Recommended Content:

TRICARE Health Program | TRICARE Changes and You

Understanding QLEs 2019

Infographic
3/7/2019
A QLE is a certain change in your life, such as marriage, birth of a child, or retirement from active duty, which may mean different TRICARE health plan options are available to you. A QLE opens a 90-day period for you to make eligible enrollment changes. A QLE for one family member means all family members may make enrollment changes.

A QLE is a certain change in your life, such as marriage, birth of a child, or retirement from active duty, which may mean different TRICARE health plan options are available to you. A QLE opens a 90-day period for you to make eligible enrollment changes. A QLE for one family member means all family members may make enrollment changes.

Recommended Content:

TRICARE Health Program | TRICARE Changes and You

Cancer Screenings 2019

Infographic
1/30/2019
This infographic lists the types of cancer screenings as part of the TRICARE Health Promotion and Disease Prevention benefit

This infographic lists the types of cancer screenings as part of the TRICARE Health Promotion and Disease Prevention benefit.

Recommended Content:

TRICARE Health Program | TRICARE Changes and You

Retiree Vision and Dental Benefit

Infographic
10/3/2018
Retiree Vision and Dental Benefit

Recommended Content:

TRICARE Health Program | TRICARE Changes and You

National Guard Reserve 2018

Infographic
10/1/2018
This infographic provides an overview of TRICARE benefits and health plan options based on your military status

This infographic describes the plans that National Guard or Reserve Members can enroll in based on their duty station.

Recommended Content:

TRICARE Health Program | TRICARE Changes and You

TRICARE Facts and Figures 2018

Infographic
5/14/2018
Updated Infographic of TRICARE facts and figures

Infographic with updated TRICARE facts and figures

Recommended Content:

TRICARE Health Program

Have a #MilKid? Here's how to use TRICARE

Infographic
10/2/2015
Infographic that explains TRICARE coverage for children.

This infographic shows you the steps to take to get TRICARE for your child and highlights your child's benefits from birth to college. Learn more at www.tricare.mil/baby.

Recommended Content:

TRICARE Health Program

How a Benefit Becomes Covered by TRICARE

Infographic
9/1/2015
Infographic depicted steps for a benefit to become covered by TRICARE

Shows the step-by-step process of how a benefit becomes covered by TRICARE

Recommended Content:

TRICARE Health Program
Showing results 1 - 10 Page 1 of 1

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.