Hospitalman Natalie Busano fills a syringe with an influenza vaccine at Naval Medical Center San Diego on Tuesday. Navy photo

Sailors, civilian staff and contractors assigned to Naval Medical Center San Diego kicked-off flu season with a three-day pandemic flu exercise that concluded Thursday.

Hospital corpsmen and sailors who volunteered to help administer vaccinations manned shot stations in one of the medical center’s wards to efficiently process patients as they received their vaccinations.

“We estimate that approximately 3,000 vaccinations will be administered this season,” said Tracy Lopez, immunization program manager. “We provide the quadrivalent, inactive flu vaccine to hospital staff under the age of 65, and a high-dose, trivalent inactive vaccine for those over 65.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control, a quadrivalent flu vaccine is designed to protect against four different flu viruses: two influenza A and two influenza B strains.

It has been a century since the worldwide flu pandemic of 1918-1919 that killed tens of millions of people, including 675,000 in the United States.

“The flu exercise is about mission readiness,” said Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Brandon Williams, a preventative medicine technician at the sprawling medical center in Balboa Park. “This is my third flu season at the hospital. My role in today’s exercise is to help stock vaccination trays for hospital corpsman administering shots, and keep the line flowing steadily.”

The hospital’s command triad, the commanding officer, executive officer and command master chief, received their vaccinations alongside sailors and staff.

“Administering the flu shot command-wide through this exercise is yet another example of how we are taking care of our patients and taking care of each other,” said Capt. Bradford L. Smith, the medical center’s commanding officer.

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