Preparing for flu season
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Nearly 60 million Americans fall victim to influenza, or the flu, annually, particularly during the winter months. Symptoms are more severe than those of the common cold, and recovery can take up to two weeks. Readiness and health of Airmen and their families requires a proactive approach. Fortunately, Yokota’s 374th Medical Group immunization clinic does just that.
The clinic has begun administering flu vaccinations to Airmen at their work centers. They also partnered with the American Red Cross and will provide shots to community members at the Yokota Community Center Oct. 15 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“By taking proactive steps, we’re able to reduce the flow of people into the clinic so that it doesn’t become overwhelmed,” said Staff Sgt. Melissa Spicer, 374th Medical Group allergy and immunization clinic technician. “With more than 3,000 active duty military members on base, ensuring that everyone is vaccinated before the peak of flu season will do a lot to ensure our readiness.”
The seasonal flu vaccine protects against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season by causing your body to develop antibodies against these viruses.
“Vaccination has been scientifically proven to reduce the risk of serious life-threatening flu related illnesses and hospitalization,” said Lt. Col. Graham Warden, 374th Medical Operations Squadron commander. “Vaccination also often makes illness milder if you do become sick and it also protects the entire Yokota community by reducing the risk for transmission, especially to those more vulnerable to its effects."
If one does fall victim to the flu, it’s important to recognize the symptoms and stop the spread of the virus. Symptoms usually develop one to seven days after exposure and can last from a few days to two weeks. These symptoms may include any or all of the following: fever, body aches, headaches, fatigue, sore throat, runny nose, cough and eye pain.
Flu treatments include staying hydrated and getting plenty of rest.
“If you get influenza, stay home except to be seen by your provider,” Spicer said.
You can protect yourself from the flu by following these simple steps:
• Get Vaccinated
• Wash hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer frequently
• Avoid sharing food, drinks and toothbrushes
• Keep your immune system healthy by getting plenty of rest, water and eating fruits and vegetables
The vaccine is not only available to Airmen and their families, but also to all Department of Defense beneficiaries stationed at Yokota. The clinic offers walk-in services each Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 7:30-11:30 a.m. and resumes 12:30 to 4 p.m. The clinic has similar hours on Tuesday, but closes at 3:30 p.m.