Flu POD exercises 35th MDG epidemic readiness
MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- When the risk of a contagious disease threatens people at Misawa Air Base, the 35th Medical Group has minimal time to ensure their safety and to vaccinate the entire population.
In efforts to strengthen this capability, medical experts used this year’s flu vaccine as a preliminary exercise to construct a point of distribution, or POD, and put their skills to the test, Nov. 3 and 4.
“Typically the POD is used if we have to quickly dispense prophylactic medication or vaccines in an emergency situation or an epidemic,” said Maj. Rohin Kasudia, the 35th Medical Support Squadron pharmaceutical flight commander. “This time, we used it to dispense the flu vaccine to help our medical staff train for a real-world scenario.”
All members eligible to receive health care at the 35th MDG acquired their vaccine through the POD, making the process comparable to an emergency situation.
“This was the first time dependents and children came through a flu line,” said Kasudia. “We designed this set up so no one, active duty or their families, would be waiting long periods of time to receive their vaccine.”
Within the first hour, more than 300 individuals went through the flu POD. On average, each individual took 50 seconds to complete the process of prescreening questions, receiving the vaccination and the administration process.
For the first-time ever in Misawa, medical personnel from both the Air Force and Navy administered vaccines for 36 consecutive hours to account for all schedules Team Misawa members may have.
Although the flu vaccine was given later than normal, the 35th MDG ensured there was no threat for delaying the vaccines availability and expressed this was the time to conduct this exercise.
“We kept a close eye on any flu activity that would reach Japan earlier than expected,” said Col. Leigh Swanson, the 35th MDG commander. “We would have immediately started immunizations if we found the flu reached Japan. This was the perfect way to set up this POD and accomplish something we have never done before.”
After this POD, the 35th MDG is expected to immunize 90 percent of Airmen and their families before the Department of Defense Education Activity deadline of Dec. 1 and the Air Force-wide deadline of Dec. 15.
“We are doing this flu POD for a readiness capability—we are testing our skills,” Kasudia explained. “We are preparing our medical team to achieve this in the quickest amount of time, ensuring the safety of everyone on base if an emergency situation occurred here.”