Keeping Barksdale healthy

By Senior Airman Chad Warren 2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs

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Tucked away in a corner of the medical clinic here, a small office of Airmen carries out a big mission. Manned by only two people, the immunizations clinic provides one of the most important medical services offered at the facility.

"If medical members get sick, they can't do their jobs," said Tech. Sgt. Jennifer Baird, NCO-in-charge of immunizations. "If they can't do their jobs, the Air Force can't do its job."

The office serves a wide variety of patients, ranging from children needing shots to begin school to Airmen preparing for deployments. One vaccination needed by Airmen and their families alike is the influenza vaccine. The vaccine, given traditionally as a shot but also offered as a nasal mist since 2005, accounts for the majority of treatments from Sept. to Dec. annually.

"Flu season is definitely the busiest," said Baird. "We treated more than 4,000 people in September and the majority of them were flu vaccines."

In addition to flu season, the office experiences a surge during back-to-school time. Children require specific vaccinations in order to register for school, depending on their age. Louisiana health cards, a shot record required for children to attend school in the state, are issued here as well, Baird added.

Even though it's important to keep a current shot record, some people are reluctant to keep their immunizations up to date.

A common misconception shared by patients is that they get the flu after receiving the flu vaccine. In actuality the specific immunization has little bearing on your body's reaction. Any vaccine can cause temporary flu-like symptoms, according to Baird.

With the Air Force's high operations tempo and more-with-less atmosphere, every Airman is too valuable to be taken out of the fight by a preventable illness.

"Airmen are expected to be fit and ready to go 365 days a year," said Capt. Barbara McDonald, clinical medical element chief. "Being sick affects the ability to meet the mission of the Air Force."

For immunization related questions, contact the immunizations office at 456-6740.