Medical Readiness: 908th Fights Back Against Influenza

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Austin Jackson
  • 908th Airlift Wing

Just like that, the leaves fell, time backed up, and the members of the 908th Airlift Wing went from rolling up their sleeves to beat the Alabama heat to searching for their winter fleece jackets in the mornings.

With the change of weather came cold and flu season, and the 908th Aeromedical Staging Squadron and Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron prepared to do battle with the illness by organizing a wing-wide influenza vaccine line for wing members.

“An influenza outbreak can interfere with combat readiness in a military setting, as the infection can incapacitate personnel,” said Maj. Myte Dahl, 908 ASTS senior medical administrator. “Getting an influenza vaccine is the best way to prevent the misery of the flu and its complications.”

A month prior, Hurricane Ian was threatening to ravish the southeastern United States where many of the wing’s members live. Out of caution, wing leadership decided to postpone October’s Unit Training Assembly.

“In anticipation of the storm, we did not want to put our members in any kind of danger, (so) we elected to have three-day UTAs in November and December,” said Col. Craig Drescher, 908 AW commander.

The 908 AW used the three-day UTA to their advantage. The extra day allowed members of the ASTS and AES to complete much of their training requirements on Friday and execute vaccinations en masse inside the maintenance hangar on Saturday and Sunday.

One of the organizers, Tech. Sgt. Kandace Neolms, noncommissioned officer in charge of immunizations, was able to lean on her predecessor to help bring the event to life.

“The previous NCOIC of immunizations helped me out a lot,” she said. “We had to gather all of the forms, the supplies, the vaccine and pull it all together quickly.”

The swiftness seemed to pay off, resulting in more than 400 vaccinations on the first day alone.

With accelerate and sustain readiness being a wing priority, Capt. Michele Godwin, officer in charge of immunizations, said this event is only going to help the 908 AW continue to be deployment ready if and when its members are called upon.

“We want to make sure our members are ready to deploy,” Godwin said. “Part of that is medical readiness. We want to prevent our members from getting sick.”

More than 260 of the wing’s 1100-plus Airmen have already been vaccinated on the civilian side, and the ASTS and AES vaccinated another 617 during the event. Wing leadership expects the remainder to be vaccinated during the December UTA.