PANEX begins flu shot season for 15th Wing

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Tiffany Andrews, 15th MDG mental health flight chief, and Staff Sgt. Edgar Corona, 15th MDG mental health technician, assist Tech. Sgt. Jason Patton-Orme, 535th Airlift Squadron loadmaster, into Makai Recreation Center during PANEX, Sept. 26.

Story and photos by 1st Lt. Avery Larkin

15th Wing Public Affairs

The 15th Wing held a pandemic response exercise (PANEX) Sept. 26-28 at the Makai Recreation Center at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam to deliver flu shots and simulate response to an influenza outbreak.

Volunteers participated in the exercise Sept. 26 by simulating symptoms for 15th Medical Group (MDG) personnel to diagnose while active duty service members completed their annual flu shot requirements.

According to Maj. Duke Dargush, 15th MDG wing inspection team chief, the exercise is grounded in executing mission requirements.

“The goal of the PANEX is to enable the mission. If a bad strain of influenza hit, it would take a month or two to get everyone vaccinated using normal procedures,” he said. “During that time, there would be drawbacks to our mission. Essentially, the PANEX allows us to get two months of work done in a few days.”

The Makai Recreation Center was open for active duty service members to get their flu shots during the PANEX.

“In a real world scenario, these sites would be operating 24 hours a day to get everyone through,” Dargush said. “Holding this exercise at this time of year allows us to knock out our operational requirements for flu shots and practice our readiness procedures.”

Military family members and all other beneficiaries should plan to get flu shots at the 15th MDG immunizations clinic.

The 15th MDG also urges pregnant women who may be hesitant to get their flu shot to consider vaccination.

“Everyone over the age of six months should receive an annual influenza vaccination, including pregnant women during any trimester,” said Lt. Col. Katie Crowder, 15th MDG chief of medical staff. “The flu vaccine is not only safe, but highly encouraged by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists due to the potential negative outcome of getting the flu while pregnant.”

In addition to the flu shot, the CDC recommends the following actions to avoid getting sick:

• Wash your hands with soap and water. You can also use an alcohol-based hand rub when soap and water are not available.

• Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and throw the tissue in the trash after using it.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth to prevent the spread of germs.

• When possible, avoid close contact with sick people.

• While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to avoid infecting them.

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Category: News