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Dr. Jay Montgomery Details Importance of the Immunization Healthcare Division

Image of Dr. Jay Montgomery is a medical director for DHA’s Immunization Healthcare Division. In addition to being a clinician and educator, he also volunteers with Wounded Warriors to design, build and fly radio controlled helicopters. (Courtesy Photo) . Dr. Jay Montgomery is a medical director for DHA’s Immunization Healthcare Division. In addition to being a clinician and educator, he also volunteers with Wounded Warriors to design, build and fly radio controlled helicopters. (Courtesy Photo)

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Dr. Jay Montgomery is a medical director for the Defense Health Agency’s Immunization Healthcare Division’s North Atlantic Region Vaccine Safety Hub. Montgomery helps address vaccine and immunization questions and concerns, both clinical and administrative. Previously, he also served as specialty consultant to the White House Medical Unit from 2003 to 2016. As a retired Navy captain, Montgomery continues to play a key role in ensuring vaccine safety and efficacy within the DOD. 

Q: Describe your role in DHA’s Immunization health care. 

Montgomery: I provide supervisory support to my staff and clinical expertise to the Immunization Healthcare Division, providers, service members, their families, and geographic combatant commands. My Hub’s area of responsibility spans the North Atlantic from Virginia to Wisconsin as well as the U.S. European Command’s and U.S. Africa Command’s area of operations. I also participate in influenza and COVID-19 vaccine trials. 

Q: Why are immunizations an important part of public health? 

Montgomery: Vaccines, by presenting our body’s immune system with a weakened germ or piece of the germ, allow us to become resistant to the effects of a serious disease without the risk of actually contracting the disease. Vaccination, along with sanitation and clean water, are undeniably responsible for improving and prolonging people’s lives, especially in the case of children. 

Q: What are some major components of your position?  

Montgomery: I provide specialized medical support to those with immunization concerns or who experience adverse events following immunizations. As a member of the Immunization Healthcare Division’s Immunization Support Center, this can be a 24/7 responsibility. Along with the office’s team of clinicians, educators, administrators, and remote immunization health care specialists, I provide a range of immunization health care education from grand rounds to vaccinator training. And, I am pleased to be able to contribute to vaccine knowledge in a broader sense through the publishing of vaccine-related research made possible by the unique opportunities available to the Immunization Healthcare Division.

Q: How is vaccine guidance developed for active-duty service members preparing for deployment? How does it compare to guidance given to forces and their family members who remain at home? 

Montgomery: DOD follows the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. Guidance for immunizations is based upon age-appropriate preventive medicine, as well as potential occupational and geographic exposure. Routine vaccine-preventable diseases include measles, whooping cough, chickenpox, tetanus, polio, hepatitis, influenza, pneumococcal disease, shingles, and others. There are also vaccines for diseases unique to specific locations such as Japanese Encephalitis, tick-borne encephalitis, typhoid, etc., as well as military-relevant vaccines for Adenovirus, Smallpox and Anthrax. Vaccine guidance is a matter of evaluating individuals to ensure they have not only the protection against routine diseases, but also protection appropriate for their geographic and occupational environments. 

Q: How do you support IHD’s response to vaccination questions or concerns? 

Montgomery: My position occupies a central role in assessing vaccine and immunization questions and concerns (whether clinical or administrative) which may come to my office through a variety of venues; direct military hospital and clinic patient referral, the Immunization Healthcare Support Center, the Global Telehealth Portal, other federal agencies (i.e., CDC), the field (via our Immunization Healthcare Specialists), etc.  My goal, and that of the Immunization Healthcare Division, is to aid the DOD in attaining the highest level of vaccine safety, efficacy, and acceptability. 

About Dr. Montgomery  

Dr. Montgomery has traveled extensively as a clinician and educator. Despite his schedule, he finds time to design, build and fly radio controlled helicopters. As a Red Cross volunteer, Montgomery assists Wounded Warriors’ cognitive and fine-motor rehabilitation by helping those patients to build radio controlled quadcopters, also known as drones, and teaches them to fly the machines first using computer simulators. A special waiver granted by the Federal Aviation Administration allows them to fly their self-built drones, under Montgomery’s supervision, in designated areas on the Naval Support Activity Bethesda campus in Maryland. In addition to the rehabilitation benefits, the program provides a comfortable environment to reintegrate teamwork and social interaction.


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