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

COVID-19, Influenza provide twice the challenge to healthcare workers

Military personnel wearing a face mask while holding hand sanitizer Navy Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Mae Larimer, assigned to Navy Medicine Readiness Training Unit Bangor helps patients and visitors at the medical clinic to daily mitigate any potential spread of the ongoing pandemic outbreak as well as seasonal influenza virus. (Photo by Douglas Stutz.)

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

It’s a double whammy that public health experts across the country had indicated could happen.

The ongoing pandemic outbreak has overlapped with the annual Northern Hemisphere influenza season.

Military medical treatment facilities like Naval Hospital Bremerton/Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command (NMRTC) Bremerton in Washington are at the fore to help eradicate the pandemic as well as prevent and protect patients from the flu.

Defense Health Agency officials had indicated in early December 2020, that Influenza-Like-Illness (ILI) does tend to peak during the winter months, which has been the case in the Pacific Northwest the last few years.

The Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended in October, 2020, that 65% of adults and children be vaccinated against the flu because of the potential simultaneous demand on healthcare systems due to COVID-19 and the flu. In recognition of that goal, DHA established a goal to meet or exceed the 65% flu vaccination rate toward the end of December2020.

Towards that goal, NMRTC Bremerton continues to provide flu vaccinations to all eligible beneficiaries, along with following the Department of Defense distribution plan for administering the COVID-19 vaccine to all active duty and reserve components, TRICARE PrimeA managed care option available in Prime Service Areas in the United States; you have an assigned primary care manager who provides most of your care.TRICARE Prime and TRICARE SelectTRICARE Select is a self-managed, preferred provider network plan. TRICARE Select is a fee-for-service option in the United States that allows you to get care from any TRICARE-authorized provider.  Enrollment is required to participate.TRICARE Select beneficiaries, and select DOD civilians and contract personnel authorized to receive immunizations from DOD.

During NMRTC Bremerton’s 2020-2021 seasonal influenza campaign, over 2,250 flu shots were administered, including a staff pandemic influenza drill that immunized approximately 750 staff members in less than 72 hours. A weeklong clinic inoculated more than 2,000 patients, and preventive medicine personnel conducted workplace flu clinics for several tenant shore commands in the region.

Yet there are still those who have not received their flu shot, as well as those who have not voluntarily been administered the COVID-19 vaccine.

According to NMRTC Bremerton public health experts, even if someone has neglected to get their flu shot, they still have the opportunity to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

“There is not a contraindication to receiving a COVID and Influenza vaccine at the same time per DHA guidance. However, we recommend at least three days of separation between the two to ensure side effects of flu vaccine are not confused with side effects of the COVID vaccine, or vice versa,” explained Dr. Dan Frederick, NHB/NMRTC Bremerton population health officer and public health emergency officer.

Frederick noted that healthcare workers in any hospital setting are considered to be at high risk of becoming infected with influenza and passing the infection to others, a similar concern with the COVID-19 virus.

“We strongly encourage everyone to get the flu vaccine. It’s now more important than ever due to the ongoing pandemic,” said Frederick, echoing CDC concerns.

According to the CDC, COVID-19 and influenza are both contagious respiratory illnesses, albeit each caused by infection from a different virus.

Influenza viruses cause mild to severe illness, whereas COVID-19 has caused serious illness in many, resulting in more than 500,000 deaths in the U.S. alone. It can also take longer for someone to show they actually have symptoms of COVID-19.

Similar symptoms between the two include fever and/or chills, shortness of breath or difficult breathing, fatigue, sore throat, runny/stuffy nose, muscle pain/body ache, headache, and even vomiting/diarrhea.

It also can take at least one or more days after someone is infected by either virus to begin to experience any illness symptoms mentioned above. While it usually takes longer for COVID-19 symptoms to develop.

There’s similarities in even unintentionally sharing either viruses. For both, it’s possible to spread the virus during a 24-hour period before experiencing any symptoms, even longer for someone with COVID-19.

Military health personnel wearing a face mask and shield while holding a needle
NHB/NMRTC Bremerton’s Immunization Clinic staff, like Navy Hospitalman Justmin Lambatin, routinely provide patient-centered support with the administration of vaccines – from influenza to COVID-19. (Photo by Douglas Stutz.)

Both viruses can be spread and shared from person to person, especially between those in close contact – six feet or less - with each other. Both are shared by droplets that occur when someone with the illness coughs, sneezes, or talks. The droplets spray out and land on someone else and get inhaled into their lungs. A person can also get physically infected by shaking hands, touching a handrail or door knob that has the virus on it and then touching their own nose, eyes or mouth.

Both are hidden. They can be spread by someone not knowing they have either due to no symptoms apparent, or having mild symptoms, and even by those who never develop symptoms – asymptomatic.

Those who are at high risk - such as older adults, people with underlying medical conditions and those who are pregnant - can become severely sick by both viruses and possibly deal with a host of complications such as pneumonia, respiratory failure, and the worsening of chronic medical conditions.

Frederick, attests that immunization is a primary method of reducing seasonal influenza illness, along with helping to eliminate the pandemic.

There are also multiple steps for everyone to follow that can be done daily to mitigate the potential spread of both viruses. One of the most effective is hand washing; avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands; avoid close contact with sick people and maintain social distancing of at least six feet; cover cough/sneezes and discard used tissues and wash hands immediately afterwards; cover your nose and mouth with a face mask when around others; and clean/disinfect frequently touched surfaces at least daily.

Using a football analogy, Frederick stressed that with the COVID-19 vaccine being administered, “for ten months we’ve been playing defense against this virus. Now it feels like we’re finally on the offense.”

You also may be interested in...

Joint Staff Surgeon Praises Americans Stepping Up to Help COVID-19 Victims

Article
4/7/2020
Image of hospital staff holding a meeting

It's about people helping people, flattening the curve, and slowing the spread of the pandemic so hospitals have a bit more time to prepare.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

New York City emergency room doc joins Air National Guard as flight surgeon

Article
4/6/2020
Image of flight surgeon

Paladino is Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine at SUNY Downstate Medical Center and also at Kings County Hospital Center.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Heroes Behind the Mask

DoD Guidance on the Use of Cloth Face Coverings

Publication
4/5/2020

Effective immediately, to the extent practical, all individuals on DoD property, installations, and facilities will wear cloth face coverings when they cannot maintain six feet of social distance in public areas or work centers (this does not include in a Service member's or Service family member's personal residence on a military installation).

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Public Health

Policy on Accessions and Accessions Training during the COVID-19 Outbreak

Publication
4/3/2020

The Military Departments must seek ways to maximize accessions in a responsible manner to minimize a reduction in military end strength and the potential deterioration of mid-and long-term readiness and capacity.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

It’s complicated: Our relationship with social media

Article
4/3/2020
Image of soldier lying down, looking at his phone

COVID-related story on perils of social media

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

250-patient Army field hospital in Seattle expected to open next week

Article
4/3/2020
Image of soldiers unpacking equipment

The field hospital...will relieve some of the burden on local hospitals, allowing them "freedom of maneuver" to better take care of patients who have COVID-19

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Public Health

Transition of Military Medical Treatment Facilities from Military Departments to the Defense Health Agency during the COVID-19 Response

Publication
4/2/2020

The Department's MTF transition plan is conditions-based. While the transition of MTFs to DHA is continuing, the COVID-19 response requirements are impacting DHA's ability to meet all required conditions. The need for the DHA and MILDEPs to refocus efforts away from the transition to support the COVID-19 response led to questions regarding the future of MTF Transition.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Military Health System Transformation

Navy secretary visits hospital ship Mercy in Port of Los Angeles

Article
4/2/2020
Image of man getting his temperature taken by service member wearing a mask.

Mercy deployed in support of the nation’s COVID-19 response efforts, and will serve as a referral hospital for non-COVID-19 patients currently admitted to shore-based hospitals.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

From the front lines to the home front, Military Medicine is always ready

Article
4/1/2020
Army Lt. Gen. Ron Place and two soldiers stand at a table with COVID-19 testing supplies

Military medicine is providing assistance in unprecedented ways

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Pharmacy Guidance for Market MTFs

Publication
3/31/2020

Message to Pharmacy Beneficiaries regarding military pharmacy services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Pharmacy Division | TRICARE Health Program

Tiered Telehealth Health Care Support for COVID-19

Publication
3/31/2020

This memorandum establishes guidance for the use of Telehealth (TH) Information Technology (IT) tools in support of the clinical care required for patients across the spectrum of COVID-19 illness

Recommended Content:

TRICARE Health Program | Public Health | Coronavirus

Possible changes at MTF pharmacies in response to COVID-19

Article
3/31/2020
A military pharmacist choosing medication from a shelf

Find out the latest pharmacy policies at MTFs

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Public Health | TRICARE Health Program

Meeting Italian COVID-19 requirements, Army reopens dining facility

Article
3/31/2020
Picture of chef preparing food

The dining facility is fully operational, even providing food deliveries to people in quarantine

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Public Health

Coping with the stress of social distancing

Article
3/31/2020
Image of person alone in room

How to navigate the COVID-19 outbreak

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Psychological Fitness

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
<< < ... 36 37 38 39 40  ... > >> 
Showing results 586 - 600 Page 40 of 42

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.