Osan giving flu shots to civilians in high-risk health categories
OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — Base officials here have begun giving flu vaccines to civilian members of the military community who fall within certain high-risk health categories.
Until this week, the vaccinations were restricted to the base’s active-duty military personnel.
“For the high-risk groups, come in and get your shots because we’ve got the stuff,” said Lt. Col. Jonathan Portis, Primary Care Flight commander with Osan’s 51st Medical Operations Squadron.
The base received an initial limited flu vaccine supply three weeks ago, said Portis. “It was only available to active-duty because ... the requirement here in Korea was to get all active-duty immunized.” As of Tuesday morning, the base had vaccinated more than 4,000 servicemembers, he said.
But this week additional vaccine arrived; “now we have the green light” to vaccinate civilians, Portis said. “That’s the contractors, the dependents, DOD workers, retirees — and we’re looking for people of a high risk,” he said.
Portis said those eligible for flu vaccine are:
children ages 6 months to 23 months;older than 65;at least 2 or older with heart or lung disease, asthma or similar conditions;those with metabolic diseases, weakened immune systems or kidney disease;women “who will be pregnant this season”;care-givers at nursing homes, “where you have your high-risk population”;Children ages 6 months to 18 years old who take aspirin daily;health-care workers who tend patients;those who care for a baby under 6 months old.“We will just immunize those people in those categories,” Portis said; in other words, a healthy 40-year-old would not get a shot.
However, he said, “There are exceptions to everything”; those who fall outside the high-risk categories but who still think they need the flu vaccine should contact the base hospital.
“They can make an appointment to see their provider, and at that time the provider will review the medical records and examine the patient, of course. And they make a determination if flu vaccination is appropriate for that individual,” Portis said.