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Airmen speed delivery of vital vaccine

By David Dobrydney Senior Airman, 379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

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Sherry Davis, a Lockheed Martin contractor from McDonough, Ga., packs H1N1 vaccines inside a medical logistics warehouse at Camp As Sayliyah, Qatar, Nov. 4. The Lockheed Martin contractors were preparing the first H1N1 influenza vaccine shipment in the Central Command area of operations.
Sherry Davis, a Lockheed Martin contractor from McDonough, Ga., packs H1N1 vaccines inside a medical logistics warehouse at Camp As Sayliyah, Qatar, Nov. 4. The Lockheed Martin contractors were preparing the first H1N1 influenza vaccine shipment in the Central Command area of operations.

Nov. 17, 2009 — SOUTHWEST ASIA (Nov. 16, 2009)  – Airmen in the 8th Expeditionary Air Mobility Squadron at this air base in Southwest Asia handle nearly every passenger and piece of cargo that travels through the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.

Recently, the cargo they handled would, soon enough, find its way to every servicemember in the AOR.

The 8th EAMS Airmen shipped the first half of the U.S. CENTCOM allotment of H1N1 flu vaccine Nov. 8 to military servicemen and women forward deployed in support of operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.

The vaccine was shipped out within 20 hours of its arrival here, said Master Sgt. Robert Kruger, NCOIC of special handling for 8th EAMS.

The vaccine arrived at the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Center located at a nearby camp.  Specialists there project theater medical logistics in support of the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.

After receiving the vaccine from USAMMC Medical Logistics, the 8th EAMS members entered it into the global transport and executive system to be assigned to an outgoing flight. The cargo they were tasked to move on the mission necessitated special handling requirements.

To maintain safety, the vaccine had to be kept refrigerated prior to being loaded on the plane, Sergeant Kruger said.

"We had to monitor the icing times on the vaccine and if we couldn't get them on a specific flight, we would have to re-ice the packs," he said.

However, within hours the vaccines were loaded and on their way.

"If a warfighter in the CENTCOM AOR gets the vaccine, it was possible due to the hard work of the Airmen in the 8th EAMS," said Army Maj. Martin Russell, a USAMMC pharmacy consultant. "I can't say enough good things about them."

Immunization for both seasonal flu and H1N1 is mandatory for all military personnel.