- Navy doctors and Hospital Corpsmen aboard the nuclear-powered aircraft
carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) began administering the
influenza vaccine to more than 5,500 Sailors Sept. 25.
All Navy active duty Sailors are directed by NAVADMIN 207/11 to
receive the influenza vaccine upon its availability, with the added
caveat that 90 percent of each command is to be immunized within 72
hours of the vaccine’s arrival to the command.
“By directive of the Chief of Naval Operations, we are expediting
the immunizations as if we were in an official influenza pandemic,”
said Capt. Tim Lavan, George Washington’s senior medical officer.
“The time crunch allows my corpsmen a unique training opportunity;
much like conducting emergency breakaways during a
replenishment-at-sea or practicing a general quarters drill, this
will allow my corpsmen to practice rapid immunization if and when
the situation calls for it.”
Upon the vaccine’s arrival to the ship, George Washington Sailors
lined up by the thousands in the ship’s medical bay to receive their
“The time limit is not at all an issue,” said Hospital Corpsman 2nd
Class George Keebler from Brighton, Mich., one of George
Washington’s corpsmen helping immunize the crew. “Besides the fact
that this is a mandate from the Navy, we are currently deployed and
everybody is aboard the ship, readily available to get their shots.
Where are they going to go? Everyone will find the time to come down
to see us.”
George Washington’s corpsmen are currently working around the clock
to ensure the crew is inoculated before the 72 hours expires; Sept.
28 is the last day the vaccine will be available to George
“Within 20 hours of the vaccine’s arrival, more than 60 percent of
the ship’s crew has been inoculated,” said Lavan. “I have no doubt
that we will meet our goal in the allotted time.”
Each year in the United States, there are over 25 million reported
cases of the flu, resulting in 150,000 hospitalizations and 24,000
deaths; the best way to decrease the risk of catching or spreading
the flu is to take the vaccine, said Lavan.
“Another way to prevent getting the flu is to simply maintain good
hygiene practices at work and at home,” said Lavan.
George Washington departed Yokosuka, Japan Sept. 19 to continue her
2011 patrol. As the Navy's only full-time forward deployed carrier,
George Washington's mission is to help ensure security and stability
in the Western Pacific.