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NEWS | July 14, 2015

US Army Medical Materiel Center-Southwest Asia fights influenza through three-day vaccination event

By Story by 1st Lt. Isra Pananon 3rd Medical Command Deployment Support

QATAR – U.S. Army Medical Materiel Center-Southwest Asia of the 3rd Medical Command (Deployment Support) Operational Command Post (Forward) hosted a three-day exercise or “SHOTEX” influenza vaccination drive for all US forces. The purpose of this exercise and vaccination drive was to immunize soldiers and protect them against the influenza virus. 

This is the first time USAMMC-SWA conducted a SHOTEX. The schedule allowed approximately 900 soldiers and civilians to get vaccinated in a short span of time. In the past, this process took up to 30 days to complete. 

“This was a deliberate operation and executed flawlessly due to the teamwork and commitment from the tenant commands to either participate in the SHOTEX or ensure personnel were on time to receive vaccination,” said USAMMC-SWA clinical operations chief, Maj. Brandi Schuyler.

Influenza vaccines require refrigeration, special packing, processing, and transportation. USAMMC-SWA’s packing methods and protocols are unsurpassed and have been the driving force behind shipping over $5 million worth of temperature sensitive materiel with zero losses.

Upon completion of the three day event, USAMMC-SWA exceeded the intended goal of vaccinating 90 percent of Southwest Asia U.S. forces. The U.S. Central Command goal is vaccination of 100 percent of personnel by Dec. 31. 

“Influenza is a serious virus that can lead to hospitalization, which means taking soldiers away from their mission and jobs,” said Lt. Col. Kenneth L. Walters, commander of USAMMC-SWA. “In most cases, this can be avoided with the annual Influenza vaccination. I feel confident that most of the soldiers deployed or stationed here will be okay this season thanks to the influenza SHOTEX.”

1st Theater Sustainment Command Commanding General, Maj. Gen. Darrell K. Williams, was onsite and received the first vaccination from USAMMC-SWA personnel.

USAMMC-SWA teamed up with 1-114th Infantry Battalion to coordinate the vaccine drive.

"The 2014 influenza vaccination effort was a phenomenal success. The target level was surpassed; maximizing force readiness and preserving public health. The influenza vaccine saves lives and keeps us army strong,” said Army medic Pfc. Jonathan R. Trego.

USAMMC-SWA is the leading provider of influenza vaccine in the USCENTCOM area of responsibility with over 200 Department of Defense and Department of State customers in over 15 countries. Their operation is a part of a larger effort by the 3rd Medical Command (Deployment Support) to enhance the force in Southwest Asia and the Middle East.