One of the smallest ships in the U.S. navy is the USS Ardent. All areas on board are shared, and movement requires touching objects that can be contaminated such as handrails, door knobs, etc. Given these types of military populations, those living in and working in confined settings are vulnerable to respiratory disease outbreaks.
As a result of, the U.S. Department of Influenza Vaccination Policy, orders that all uniformed personnel receive seasonal influenza vaccinations unless medically exempt. Everyone must be at least 90 percent vaccinated according to this policy. However despite vaccinations, influenza outbreaks can still occur even in highly vaccinated military populations.
Influenza Outbreak Occured Even With Vaccinated Crew Members
Over the course of three days, 25 out of 102 USS Ardent crew members required medical attention because of influenza-like illness (ILI). The Naval Health Research Center conducted testing which determined that 20 specimens had influenza A, 18 of which were subtype H3N2.
ILI was defined as illness with two of more of the following symptoms:
- Fever of 104F
- Sore Throat
- Shortness of Breath
- Body Aches
This outbreak highlighted the risk for an influenza outbreak among vaccinated and otherwise healthy people. All 25 crew members with ILI symptoms were healthy men 21- 44 years. All the ILI cases occurred in all ranks departments, job types and work shifts.
This year, 22 crew members were reported sick on Feb 10th, one on Feb 11th, and four more on Feb 12th.. 99 of the 102 USS Ardent crew members along with 24 out of the 25 with ILI symptoms and 17 out of the 18 crew members with confirmed influenza A infection had received the 2013-14 vaccination three months prior to the outbreak.
Though precautions were taken, this data underscores the ineffectiveness of vaccines against all strains of the virus.
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