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With winter approaching, U.S. military communities in Japan are preparing for their annual fight against the flu.

While some bases still await vaccine shipments, others have started dispensing the shots at immunization clinics. Unlike recent years, ample supplies are expected in most locations.

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by one of several known influenza virus strains. It can cause mild to severe illness and, in some cases, even death.

Influenza is transmitted through coughing or sneezing, and the virus can be picked up on desks, doorknobs or people. Individuals become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching the mouth, nose or eyes.

“It is recommended that all individuals get their flu shot this season to prevent flu,” said Lt. Lori Christensen, an environmental health officer and head of preventive medicine at Yokosuka Naval Hospital. “It’s especially important for some people.”

The Defense Department follows Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines to identify high-risk groups. They include:

All children ages 6-23 months.Adults ages 65 and older.Individuals with underlying chronic medical conditions.Women who will be pregnant during the influenza season.Residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities.Children from 6 months to 18 years of age on chronic aspirin therapy.Out-of-home caregivers and household members in contact with infants younger than 6 months old.Adults and children with a condition that can compromise respiratory function.Yokota Air Base and Yokosuka Naval Base have established flu-shot schedules.

Capt. Warren Comer, a 374th Airlift Wing spokesman at Yokota, said the medical group ordered 6,000 vaccine doses this year and all have arrived. “This should meet the demand from people on the base,” he added.

Misawa Air Base officials said Tuesday they expect to receive flu vaccine in mid-November but a specific distribution date for shots hasn’t been announced.

Information was not available Tuesday for Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Camp Zama, Sasebo Naval Base, Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni and Camp Fuji.

Flu shots are mandatory for active-duty personnel.

Stars and Stripes reporters Jennifer H. Svan and Allison Batdorff contributed to this story.

Flu shot schedules

Flu shot schedules and other flu prevention information provided to date by U.S. military bases in Japan:

Yokota Air BaseActive-duty servicemembers, dependents, Defense Department contractors and civilian employees now may get vaccinations at the hospital’s immunization clinic on a walk-in basis. Operational hours are 7:30-11:30 a.m. and 1-4 p.m. daily but closed on training days.

Flu shots also will be given at:

Taiyo Recreation Center, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 16-17.Yujo Recreation Center, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 28-29.Building 400, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 7-8.Call the immunization clinic at DSN 225-9079 for more information.

Yokosuka Naval BaseActive-duty sailors in shore commands will receive shots at their commands or a designated location from U.S. Naval Hospital staff. Unit representatives have met with USNH Preventive Medicine staff to set the schedule. Individuals should contact their chain of command for times and locations.

Beneficiaries including children, spouses, General Schedule employees, DODDS teachers and military retirees may get flu shots at the Kinnick High School student forum (on the courtyard across from the school office):

From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Nov. 15-17.From 8 a.m. to noon Nov. 18.Call the Yokosuka Naval Hospital’s Preventive Medicine Office at DSN 243-2608 for more information.

Camp ZamaCommunity members may call DSN 263-5050 for more information about this year’s flu season.

Misawa Air BaseInfluenza vaccine is expected to be available after mid-November.

For more information about what you can do to prevent the flu, visit www.cdc.gov.


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