An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Home : News : News
NEWS | Aug. 8, 2013

JBSA health care providers stress importance of vaccines

By Robert Goetz Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Public Affairs

National Immunization Awareness Month is observed each August to "highlight the need for improving national immunization coverage levels," according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Improving immunization coverage is an emphasis at the Joint Base San Antonio medical clinics, where health care professionals promote immunization awareness throughout the year - stressing the importance of vaccines during regular wellness visits with their patients.

Vaccines play a key role in health care, Senior Airman Kelly Boos, 359th Aerospace-Medicine Squadron medical technician at JBSA-Randolph, said.

"Because of vaccines, there has been a dramatic decline in the number of children who suffer from diseases such as polio, chickenpox, hepatitis B and whooping cough," she said.

"Vaccinating children with all recommended vaccines is one of the safest and most advanced means of preventing infection."

Other diseases that childhood vaccines prevent include diphtheria, human papillomavirus, measles, German measles, mumps and tetanus, according to the CDC.

In addition to being effective, vaccines have also proven to be safe, Tech. Sgt. Brandon Smyer, 359th Medical Operations Squadron Family Health Clinic NCO in charge, said.

"All vaccines undergo years of testing before they are licensed for public use," he said. "Vaccines that are in public use are closely monitored. The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System is used to report and track any adverse reactions caused by vaccines. This data is used to report any adverse reaction trends and to provide information to patients, health care providers and vaccine manufacturers."

Smyer also said all patients are carefully screened before receiving any immunizations to ensure that the risk of an adverse reaction is minimized.

"The most common side effects from vaccines include soreness and redness at the injection site," he said. "Serious reactions are rare."

Recommended immunizations for children in the first 18 months of their lives are the initial doses of the vaccines for tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis; polio; mumps, measles and rubella; and chickenpox; booster doses of these vaccines should be given between 4 and 6 years old. Recommended vaccines for 11- and 12-year-olds are for Tdap and meningococcal disease.

Adults should also remain current with their immunizations, including vaccines for influenza; Tdap; zoster, or shingles; and pneumonia.

Vaccines for HPV, the most common sexually transmitted virus in the United States, are recommended for members of both sexes between the ages of 11 and 26 years old, Boos said. Typically administered to girls, the vaccines are also approved for boys.

"Almost every sexually active person will acquire HPV at some point in their lives," she said. "The HPV vaccine helps protect against genital warts and cancers of the anus, vagina and vulva."

HPV vaccines offer the best protection to girls and boys who receive all three doses, which are administered over six months, and have time to develop an immune response prior to becoming sexually active, Boos said.

Although many parents wait until late July and August to have their school-age children immunized - when the immunization clinic is busiest - it's best to follow health care providers' recommended schedule, she said.

"The schedule recommends vaccinations at age 4 and 11 for these children," Boos said. "Once children have had their birthday at these ages, it is a good idea to bring them in to receive them. If children are on a catch-up schedule, it is highly recommended not to wait until the last minute prior to school registration."

Smyer said following the recommended schedules allow patients to avoid long waits during late July and August.

JBSA immunization clinic hours at the three installations are as follows:

· JBSA-Fort Sam Houston immunization clinic's morning hours are 7:30-11:15 a.m. Monday-Thursday, afternoon hours are 1:15-3:45 p.m. only on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. No immunizations will be given on Fridays. Children and adults ages 6-and-up only. Phone number; 916-3011, option 2.

· JBSA-Lackland immunization clinic is open from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Wednesday and Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursdays. It is walk-in only. Phone number; 292-2345

· JBSA-Randolph immunization clinic's morning hours are 7:30-11:45 a.m. Monday-Friday; afternoon hours are 1-4:15 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, and 1-3 p.m. Tuesday and Friday. Phone number; 652-6403, option 1, option 4.