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CAMP LESTER, Okinawa — The annual seasonal flu vaccine program is under way for military personnel throughout Okinawa, according to U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa.

The program is starting about a month earlier than previous years to meet the Defense Department’s goal of immunizing 90 percent of all status of forces agreement personnel on Okinawa by Dec. 1, according to a release.

"We’re starting early this year, because we anticipate that vaccine for H1N1 (swine flu) will become available late this year," Cmdr. George Semple, director of public health services at the hospital, is quoted in the release. "We want to have the seasonal flu immunizations wrapped up before the H1N1 vaccine arrives."

The DOD requires annual seasonal influenza vaccinations for all active-duty military personnel, selected reserves and health care workers. After DOD requirements have been met, the vaccine will be made available to family members and others eligible for care at military clinics and hospitals.

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