Pat Young

Winn ACH Public Affairs

Courtesy Graphic
Winn Army Community Hospital and installation partners plan for the annual influenza campaign with a drive-up flu vaccination clinic option this fall on Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield.

Drive-up flu vaccinations to come

Winn Army Community Hospital and installation partners plan for the annual influenza campaign with a drive-up flu vaccination clinic option this fall on Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield.
Maj. Atia Mbah, the Director of Installation Department of Public Health on Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield, said while healthcare professionals have learned a lot about the novel coronavirus during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, the impact it will have during flu season is unknown.  We must take extra precautions.
Mbah said some flu and COVID symptoms have similar characteristics but note some key differences.
The Center for Disease Control, cdc.gov outlines several shared symptoms. These could include fever or sensation of fever and chills, cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, fatigue, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle pain or body aches, headache and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea.
The CDC further warns it is possible to have COVID-19 and the flu at the same time and other respiratory illnesses. Winn Army Community Hospital has the capability to test for both COVID and influenza. 
Making sure people understand the risk and taking precautions is essential.
In a previous article about the Pediatric wellness clinic returning to Winn, Dr. Matthew Fults, chief of Pediatrics at Winn ACH, said following CDC protection measures and guidelines provide an extra layer of protection.
One of those added layers is getting routine immunizations and the flu vaccine when it becomes available for individuals six months and up.
“We strongly recommend it,” Fults said. "The data for influenza and COVID 19 infection is unclear. And the best chance we have to help keep you and your Family safe, is to get a flu shot." The CDC warns that both infants and children with underlying medical conditions are at increased risk of being infected with both flu and COVID-19. 
He said patients that have had influenza or COVID should still get an influenza vaccine.
“Patients can be re-infected with influenza, and it is possible to get another strain,” Fults said. “Once a patient has recovered from their acute illness, they can get the vaccination.” 
The drive-up flu clinic will help in that effort.
“The plan is to conduct the drive-up flu campaign at the same locations as last year, off 6th Street at the Winn ACH overflow parking lot – next to the Bennett Sports Complex," said Valarie Camak-Isaac, deputy chief, Department of Preventive Medicine at Winn ACH.
The access to the Fort Stewart drive-up clinic is 6th Street from Niles Avenue, near the Marne Lanes Bowling Center, with patients exiting the site on Harmon Avenue. For the clinic's duration, 6th Street will be closed to all other traffic, except those departing Winn ACH parking lot going toward Niles Ave. 
Participants need to help protect themselves and others by wearing a face mask during their visit. Individuals who exhibit flu or COVID-19 symptoms cannot participate in the drive-up clinic.
The CDC notes vaccination should be postponed for people with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, regardless of whether they have symptoms, until they have met the criteria to discontinue their isolation.
Once the vaccine arrives, additional information about the drive-up clinics at Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield will be made available through the MEDDAC Facebook site at facebook.com/winncares.
Fults said after the drive-through influenza clinic, the pediatrics clinic (for pediatric patients under age 2) and the allergy and immunology clinic will offer vaccinations throughout the flu season."
For those beneficiaries who exhibit COVID-19 or flu-type symptoms, contact the Winn call center at 435-6633, option 4, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday or the Tricare Nurse Advice Line at 1-800-TRICARE (1-800-874-2273) for assistance.