AL ASAD AIR BASE, Iraq --
After the recent outbreak of swine flu in the United States, the Department of Defense mandated all service members, whether deployed or stateside, receive a vaccination for the H1N1 virus.
"The vaccination for swine flu is being distributed from Army Medical Logistics in batches," explained Lt. Cmdr. John Brooks, the preventative medicine officer for II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward). "Since the vaccination was just recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration, we can only get so many doses of it as it is produced."
Marines with II MEF (Fwd) have been lining up to get their mandatory shots from the corpsmen aboard Al Asad Air Base, Iraq.
"Swine flu has become an epidemic in the states, so we need to make sure we are all protected," said Seaman Apprentice Deen Brooksher, a corpsman with II MEF (Fwd). �Anybody attached to [Multi National Force - West] needs to get this vaccination."
Within a week to 10 days after receiving the vaccination, the service member's body will have recognized the virus and begun fighting against it.
"The next time a service member comes in contact with the virus, the body will recognize it as bad and fight it off," said Brooks.
While most deployed Marines and sailors have already received their annual flu shots, it is extremely important they get the vaccination for swine flu.
"The seasonal flu shot changes each time it is released," explained Brooks. "There are over 300 different flu strains, and as flu season comes, medical professionals take the top three most likely strains to become most active, and they formulate the vaccine with those strains."
For the Marines and sailors with II MEF (Fwd) who miss their open window to receive the vaccination at their designated site, they will be able to report to the medical clinic on base for their required dose.