Marianas Variety Guam Edition – The Local and Regional Newspaper

12 23Thu10302014

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Back Local News Guam gets flu vaccine donations

Guam gets flu vaccine donations

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THE Department of Defense, through the Joint Task Force Homeland Defense (JTF-HD), based in Fort Shafer, Hawaii, has donated flu vaccines for more than 1,400 Guam residents.

According to Josie O’Mallan, bureau administrator of the Division of Public Health, a second batch of vaccines is also expected this week for a total of about 3,000.

The vaccines will go to private healthcare providers and also to the community health centers.

“We are definitely appreciative of the efforts of the Joint Task Force Homeland Defense. It allows private providers to administer the vaccine at minimal or low cost to those who otherwise may be unable to get it,” O’Mallan said.

Every year since the 2006 to 2007 flu season, Guam has participated in the program. JTF-HD contacts the six U.S.-affiliated Pacific islands to pass on excess vaccines that would normally have expired and gone to waste.

Each island is contacted to determine how much of the vaccine is needed.

When vaccinations are not made available through JTF-HD, healthcare providers must purchase the vaccines.

Flu season typically starts around August. A new version of the flu vaccine is distributed in the fall every year.

JTF-HD initiatives include maintaining situational awareness of all domains within the joint operations area and conducting civil support operations in response to all hazards to mitigate human suffering and reduce infrastructure damage.

In the U.S. alone, seasonal influenza kills approximately 36,000 Americans on average each year. Invariably, despite efforts to have all service members and beneficiaries receive the vaccine, DOD ends up with an excess vaccines that are destroyed at the end of the influenza season.

JTF-HD recognized DOD's surplus of vaccines and the need in the Pacific for influenza vaccination, and began the US/PI Vaccine Program during the 2006-2007 flu season in the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

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