Back to Top Skip to main content

DHA’s Vaccine Safety Hubs emphasize safety

Soldier filling a vaccine needle Staff Sgt. Jay Griggs, medical technician with the 911th Aeromedical Staging Squadron, prepares a vaccine at the Pittsburgh International Airport Air Reserve Station, Pennsylvania. Department of Defense issued vaccinations are used to prevent a variety of diseases that military members may encounter in the course of their duties. (U.S. Air Force photo by Joshua J. Seybert)

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Immunization Healthcare | Vaccine-Preventable Diseases

“It’s very, very easy to do vaccines wrong; it’s very hard to do it right.”

When Dr. Bruce McClenathan, medical director of the South Atlantic Region Vaccine Safety Hub for the Defense Health Agency’s Immunization Healthcare Division, teaches courses on vaccine safety, he often makes this statement to his students.

To do it right, according to McClenathan, is to know the exceptions to every rule and the nuances of delivering high-quality immunization health care. Within the Military Health System that job falls on the four regional vaccine safety hubs of the DHA, which are strategically located throughout the U.S.

“The vaccine safety hubs are designed to place immunization experts in the field and assist stakeholders with various needs; this could be recommendations on clinical care, education and training, answering questions on policy, providing recommendations on clinic operations, best practices, vaccine hesitancy, conducting vaccine research, etc.,” said McClenathan. “Our team helps with all things related to vaccines.”

A physician serves as medical director in leading each hub, which includes nurse practitioners, registered nurses, immunization health care specialists, education experts, and research assistants, as well as a hub administrator, each having various areas of responsibility.

Military personnel in a classroom setting
The Immunization Healthcare Division's Pacific Region Vaccine Safety Hub held a two-day Immunization Lifelong Learners Course at Camp Pendleton in San Diego County, California, on Sept. 2-3, 2020 for MHS healthcare professionals. (Photo by David Carbungco)

“For example, the South Atlantic Region Vaccine Safety hub, which is based out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, is responsible for taking care of CENTCOM, SOUTHCOM, and SOCOM, as well as the major commands on Fort Bragg proper, such as the U.S. Army Forces Command, the U.S. Army Special Operation Command, Joint Special Operations Command, and XVIII Airborne Corp. In addition, the hub supports the entire southeastern part of the United States,” he said. “If a stakeholder in any of these Commands or geographic areas has a question or concern about immunizations, we are available to assist and help resolve their issues.”

Behind the scenes, the regional vaccine safety hubs conduct training and quality assurance checks to ensure the delivery of a safe and effective vaccine to the patient. “If you go in to get a vaccine and everything is fine, that means we’ve done our job well,” said McClenathan. “All of the details that a patient doesn’t need to know about vaccines—but your clinic staff who provide it do have to know...we make sure folks are trained.”

While the military medical treatment facilities oversee and manage their day-to-day operations in patient care, such as ordering and managing vaccines, if they run into a problem, the regional immunization health care specialist is there to help. Recently, McClenathan and his team helped an MTF secure enough yellow fever vaccine just before a short-notice deployment of troops; they otherwise would have faced a supply shortage.

“We redistribute vaccines anywhere in the DoD and ensure they go where they are needed so that vaccines don’t go to waste,” he said, adding that by doing so, the hubs save the Department of Defense hundreds of thousands of dollars each year.

Staff from the hub also support the 24/7 vaccine call centerline where clinic staff, patients and other beneficiaries can ask an expert vaccine-related questions.

“Our hubs are critical to the success of our organization and the DoD immunization program as a whole,” said McClenathan. “We are a one-stop shop for all things immunization so that those who do provide the immunizations can do their jobs competently, professionally, and to the standard of care, if not exceeding the standard of care.”

The majority of vaccines do not change frequently, with exception of the flu vaccine that is updated every year to adapt to new virus strains, but vaccine research is evolving, said McClenathan. For example, the Food and Drug Administration recently expanded approval of an HPV vaccine for men and women up to age 45 to prevent certain cancers and diseases; previously the maximum age was 26.

“As more data and research are completed and assimilated, the recommendations for use of a vaccine may change, even though vaccine itself may not be changing,” he said.

The regional vaccine safety hubs also contribute to the overall vaccine research community, especially as it relates to military health beneficiaries. The research topics can vary from genetics to vaccine adverse reactions to the efficacy of vaccines. McClenathan’s team recently completed a five-year clinical trial studying the impact of ibuprofen on a patient’s immune response to the flu vaccine. The results of the study will soon be published in a peer-reviewed journal.

“It’s really never been studied, especially in adults,” he said. “But we give a lot of ibuprofen and we give a lot of vaccines in the military, so we need to know if giving ibuprofen impacts how people respond to the vaccine.”

Currently, all four regional vaccine safety hubs within the DHA are participating in a major study, in collaboration with the federal government’s Infectious Disease Clinical Research Program to assess which form of the flu vaccine is most effective and providing immunity against the virus, whether egg-based, cell-based, or recombinant flu vaccine. “That’s going to be a pivotal study that will change not only which flu vaccine is given in the military but hopefully globally,” said McClenathan.

You also may be interested in...

The Defense Health Agency participates in AUSA 2019 annual meeting

Article
10/18/2019
U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Ronald Place, DHA Director, discusses upcoming Military Health System changes designed to improve the readiness of combat forces during a seminar held at the Association of the United States Army 2019 Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington, D.C.  Lt. Gen. Place explained how DHA is standardizing systems to improve healthcare across the enterprise.  (DHA Photo by Hannah Wagner)

Focus on quality care, innovation at home and on the battlefield

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness

The Military Training Network transitions to the Defense Health Agency

Article
10/11/2019
The Military Training Network or MTN transferred from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences to the Defense Health Agency in September 2019. MTN oversees basic, advanced, and pediatric life-support training for more than 350,000 medical and non-medical personnel at 345 military facilities around the globe. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexandra Singer)

Shift speeds training where it’s needed most

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness

Army distributes 1.5 million flu vaccines

Article
10/10/2019
Navy Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Alexander Wrigel (right), a medic assigned to Task Group 68.6, forward deployed to Camp Lemonnier, administers a flu shot to Navy Lt. Cmdr. Hector Ubinas. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Joe Rullo)

Five to twenty percent of people in the U.S. are affected by the flu each season

Recommended Content:

Immunization Healthcare | Immunizations | Medical Logistics

The Head, Hand, and Heart of Women’s Health

Article
10/4/2019
Maintaining peak health is critical for all military personnel. This month, we focus on women whose health concerns and symptoms may be different from those in men. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Roger Jackson)

Health is universal for military personnel and civilians, but some health concerns affect women differently. Here are a few examples.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Women's Health

Autumn ushers in season of falling under the weather with flu

Article
9/26/2019
A bronze bench and statue near the America Building at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, memorializes military dependent Trevor Lin. The 7-year-old's death in the fall of 2009 was attributed to influenza.  (Photo courtesy of Walter Reed-Bethesda)

Health care experts: Everyone 6 months and older should get vaccine

Recommended Content:

Immunization Healthcare | Immunizations

DoD, HHS implement Executive Order to modernize flu vaccines

Article
9/25/2019
Health care experts recommend that everyone 6 months and older – including the elderly, chronically ill people, and expectant mothers – receive the flu vaccine as soon as it becomes available. (DoD photo)

New task force aims to increase efficiency, effectiveness

Recommended Content:

Immunization Healthcare | Immunizations

International medics tackle Tactical Combat Casualty Care

Article
9/23/2019
Air Force students provide cover while pulling a ‘wounded’ training mannequin out of simulated line-of-fire during the Tactical Combat Casualty Care course at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington. Battlefield simulation drills are vital to provide medics and combat personnel with realistic situations where they provide life-saving care and evacuation of wounded. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ryan Lackey)

TCCC has become the new standard of medical training proficiency for military personnel

Recommended Content:

Combat Support | Health Readiness

Vaccines: A public health success story

Article
8/7/2019
Tech Sgt. Joseph Anthony, medical technician with the 911th Aeromedical Staging Squadron, administers a vaccination to a member of the U.S. Army Reserve’s 336 Engineering Company Command and Control, Chemical Radiological and Nuclear Response Enterprise Team at the Pittsburgh International Airport Air Reserve Station, Pennsylvania, April 11, 2019. Department of Defense-issued vaccinations are used to prevent a variety of diseases that military members may encounter in the course of their duties. (U.S. Air Force photo by Joshua J. Seybert)

Maintaining a medically ready force is just one of many reasons to vaccinate

Recommended Content:

Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Immunizations | Immunization Healthcare | Vaccine-Preventable Diseases

Tick Facts: Dangers at the height of tick season

Article
7/31/2019
A tick like this one, seen at 10x magnification, can spread a number of dangerous pathogens during the warm-weather months. (Photo by Cornel Constantin)

Many diseases are transferred to humans by ticks — Lyme is the most common, but several others, described here, are worth knowing about

Recommended Content:

Bug-Borne Illnesses | Tick-Borne Illnesses | Health Readiness | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Public Health

U.S., Royal Air Force Aeromedical Evacuation Squadrons train together

Article
7/26/2019
Reserve Citizen Airmen from Joint Base Charleston's 315th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron prepare a mock patient during a drill inside a C-17 Globemaster III, July 10, 2019. Drills performed while in-flight are to mimic real-life scenarios that the 315 AES may encounter. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman William Brugge)

The C-17 Globemaster III serves as a common platform for medevacs in both squadrons

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Building Partner Capacity and Interoperability

Sexually transmitted infections on the rise in military

Article
6/26/2019
Some sexually transmitted infections are on the rise in the military. To increase awareness, members of Team McConnell attend a briefing on STIs at McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexi Myrick)

What you need to know to stay safe

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Men's Health | Women's Health

German allies visit JBSA-Fort Sam Houston on 75th anniversary of D-Day

Article
6/14/2019
Maj. Gen. Gesine Kruger, Commander for the German Bundeswehr Medical Academy (pictured center in the Flight Paramedic Training Simulator) and her delegation observed training and toured the Critical Care Flight Paramedic Course at the Health Readiness Center of Excellence. (U.S. Army photo)

The purpose of this visit was to further strengthen the bonds and interoperability programs between our allied countries or partner nations

Recommended Content:

Global Health Engagement | Health Readiness | Global Health Engagement

Hospital honored for Hepatitis B vaccine birth dose rate

Article
6/10/2019
Navy Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Tommy Baker checks on Navy Logistics Specialist Seaman Tabernesha Victrum and Romeo Taylor as they hold their newborn daughter at Naval Hospital Jacksonville’s Maternal Infant Unit. (U.S. Navy photo by Jacob Sippel)

NH Jacksonville is the newest entry into IAC’s Birth Dose Honor Roll

Recommended Content:

Military Hospitals and Clinics | Immunization Healthcare

Preventive Medicine techs foil the foe

Article
5/6/2019
The Food Safety Managers Course can positively impact mission readiness. By inspecting food and food service facilities, and if needed, conducting bacteriological analysis of food, water, and ice samples keeps those food and water borne contaminants away. (U.S. Army photo)

The adversary can impact Sailors and Marines everywhere

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness

New training prepares Airmen to save lives

Article
5/2/2019
Tactical Combat Casualty Care is a two-day course created by the Committee on Tactical Combat Casualty Care, and adopted by National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians. It teaches life-saving skills and methods proven effective in a combat environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Andrew D. Sarver)

TCCC teaches Airmen to treat injuries until medical care arrives

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness
<< < ... 6 7 > >> 
Showing results 76 - 90 Page 6 of 7

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.