Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

DHA’s Vaccine Safety Hubs emphasize safety

Image of Soldier filling a vaccine needle. Staff Sgt. Jay Griggs, medical technician with the 911th Aeromedical Staging Squadron, prepares a vaccine at the Pittsburgh International Airport Air Reserve Station, Pennsylvania. Department of Defense issued vaccinations are used to prevent a variety of diseases that military members may encounter in the course of their duties. (U.S. Air Force photo by Joshua J. Seybert)

Recommended Content:

Seasonal Influenza Vaccine Toolkit | Health Readiness | Immunization Healthcare | Vaccine-Preventable Diseases

“It’s very, very easy to do vaccines wrong; it’s very hard to do it right.”

When Dr. Bruce McClenathan, medical director of the South Atlantic Region Vaccine Safety Hub for the Defense Health Agency’s Immunization Healthcare Division, teaches courses on vaccine safety, he often makes this statement to his students.

To do it right, according to McClenathan, is to know the exceptions to every rule and the nuances of delivering high-quality immunization health care. Within the Military Health System that job falls on the four regional vaccine safety hubs of the DHA, which are strategically located throughout the U.S.

“The vaccine safety hubs are designed to place immunization experts in the field and assist stakeholders with various needs; this could be recommendations on clinical care, education and training, answering questions on policy, providing recommendations on clinic operations, best practices, vaccine hesitancy, conducting vaccine research, etc.,” said McClenathan. “Our team helps with all things related to vaccines.”

A physician serves as medical director in leading each hub, which includes nurse practitioners, registered nurses, immunization health care specialists, education experts, and research assistants, as well as a hub administrator, each having various areas of responsibility.

Military personnel in a classroom setting
The Immunization Healthcare Division's Pacific Region Vaccine Safety Hub held a two-day Immunization Lifelong Learners Course at Camp Pendleton in San Diego County, California, on Sept. 2-3, 2020 for MHS healthcare professionals. (Photo by David Carbungco)

“For example, the South Atlantic Region Vaccine Safety hub, which is based out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, is responsible for taking care of CENTCOM, SOUTHCOM, and SOCOM, as well as the major commands on Fort Bragg proper, such as the U.S. Army Forces Command, the U.S. Army Special Operation Command, Joint Special Operations Command, and XVIII Airborne Corp. In addition, the hub supports the entire southeastern part of the United States,” he said. “If a stakeholder in any of these Commands or geographic areas has a question or concern about immunizations, we are available to assist and help resolve their issues.”

Behind the scenes, the regional vaccine safety hubs conduct training and quality assurance checks to ensure the delivery of a safe and effective vaccine to the patient. “If you go in to get a vaccine and everything is fine, that means we’ve done our job well,” said McClenathan. “All of the details that a patient doesn’t need to know about vaccines—but your clinic staff who provide it do have to know...we make sure folks are trained.”

While the military medical treatment facilities oversee and manage their day-to-day operations in patient care, such as ordering and managing vaccines, if they run into a problem, the regional immunization health care specialist is there to help. Recently, McClenathan and his team helped an MTF secure enough yellow fever vaccine just before a short-notice deployment of troops; they otherwise would have faced a supply shortage.

“We redistribute vaccines anywhere in the DoD and ensure they go where they are needed so that vaccines don’t go to waste,” he said, adding that by doing so, the hubs save the Department of Defense hundreds of thousands of dollars each year.

Staff from the hub also support the 24/7 vaccine call centerline where clinic staff, patients and other beneficiaries can ask an expert vaccine-related questions.

“Our hubs are critical to the success of our organization and the DoD immunization program as a whole,” said McClenathan. “We are a one-stop shop for all things immunization so that those who do provide the immunizations can do their jobs competently, professionally, and to the standard of care, if not exceeding the standard of care.”

The majority of vaccines do not change frequently, with exception of the flu vaccine that is updated every year to adapt to new virus strains, but vaccine research is evolving, said McClenathan. For example, the Food and Drug Administration recently expanded approval of an HPV vaccine for men and women up to age 45 to prevent certain cancers and diseases; previously the maximum age was 26.

“As more data and research are completed and assimilated, the recommendations for use of a vaccine may change, even though vaccine itself may not be changing,” he said.

The regional vaccine safety hubs also contribute to the overall vaccine research community, especially as it relates to military health beneficiaries. The research topics can vary from genetics to vaccine adverse reactions to the efficacy of vaccines. McClenathan’s team recently completed a five-year clinical trial studying the impact of ibuprofen on a patient’s immune response to the flu vaccine. The results of the study will soon be published in a peer-reviewed journal.

“It’s really never been studied, especially in adults,” he said. “But we give a lot of ibuprofen and we give a lot of vaccines in the military, so we need to know if giving ibuprofen impacts how people respond to the vaccine.”

Currently, all four regional vaccine safety hubs within the DHA are participating in a major study, in collaboration with the federal government’s Infectious Disease Clinical Research Program to assess which form of the flu vaccine is most effective and providing immunity against the virus, whether egg-based, cell-based, or recombinant flu vaccine. “That’s going to be a pivotal study that will change not only which flu vaccine is given in the military but hopefully globally,” said McClenathan.

You also may be interested in...

Chlamydia is the Military's Most Common Sexually Transmitted Infection

Article
6/21/2022
Chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the U.S., and most people who have it don’t know it. You may be able to get STI testing and treatment at your local community health clinic. In the photo, a service member at Naval Medical Center Camp LeJeune Community Health Clinic gets tested for STIs.  (Photo: Naval Medical Center Camp LeJeune Public Affairs)

Rates for Chlamydia have been rising in recent years. Chlamydia can cause permanent damage that can make it difficult or impossible for women to get pregnant. It often shows no symptoms at all but in some cases, it can cause a burning sensation when peeing in both men and women.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Sexually Transmitted Infection Prevention

How MHS GENESIS will become essential to patients' health journey

Article
6/21/2022
Dr. Robert Marshall, program director of the Department of Defense Clinical Informatics Fellowship at Madigan Army Medical Center.

Ensuring proper training of both providers and patients is essential for the successful integration and sustainment of MHS GENESIS into MHS care.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Health Care Technology | MHS GENESIS Toolkit | Electronic Health Record: MHS GENESIS | MHS GENESIS

Tips for Military Parents Planning PCS Moves with Children

Article
6/2/2022
Moving can be hard on military families, especially on children. Moving to a new home, going to a new school, finding new friends – it can be unsettling for kids of any age. Yet there are things that service members can do to prepare for a permanent change of station move that can make for a smoother transition for the children.

Moving can be hard on military families, especially on children. Moving to a new home, going to a new school, finding new friends – it can be unsettling for kids of any age. Yet, there are things that service members can do to prepare for a permanent change of station move that can make for a smoother transition for the children.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Total Force Fitness

Could a Therapy Dog Help with Your Dental Anxiety?

Article
6/2/2022
Air Force Brig. Gen. Goldie, a facility therapy dog at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, helps reduce anxiety in a patient with complex dental conditions that require multiple appointments. The use of therapy dogs is part of an ongoing study with these patients.

A first-of-its-kind study at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center is researching whether using facility therapy dogs in dentists’ offices could reduce patient anxiety and improve outcomes for military dental treatment programs.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Total Force Fitness

Corneal Collagen Cross Linking in the Military a Game Changer

Article
5/27/2022
Corneal collagen cross-linking, known as CXL, the first and only treatment to date that is proven to stop Keratoconus, KCN, progression.

Corneal collagen cross-linking, known as CXL, the first and only treatment to date that is proven to stop Keratoconus, KCN, progression.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness

Facility Dogs Play a Vital Role in Recovery for Patients Across the MHS

Article
5/27/2022
Luke is a German Shephard facility dog.

Each dog has his or her own rank, service, and uniform and is inducted in an enlistment or commissioning ceremony. Today, the Facility Dog Program at WRNMMC includes Sully, a yellow Lab who was former President George H.W. Bush’s service dog.

Recommended Content:

Military Medical History | Health Readiness

After Leading Through the Pandemic, TRICARE Pharmacy Chief Retires

Article
5/27/2022
Pharmacy Services

How COVID-driven changes are improving the TRICARE Pharmacy System.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Health Care Technology

How Health Care Providers Can Mitigate Burnout

Article
5/25/2022
U.S. Army Soldiers load a simulated patient on to a New Jersey National Guard UH-60L Black Hawk helicopter during a combat lifesaver course run by the Medical Simulation Training Center on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, April 14, 2022.  (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Matt Hecht)

“No one is immune to burnout. Healthcare providers are very good at rescuing others. We train for it and practice it daily. Unfortunately, we often do so at the expense of our own health and wellness.”

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Health Readiness

Feeling Burned Out at Work? Here Are Some Tips to Feel Better

Article
5/24/2022
Feeling burned out? Tips to understand and avoid burnout.

The good news is that burnout can be mitigated. There are numerous steps that individuals and leaders can take to reduce burnout and its impact.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Health Readiness

Iraq Bomb Attack Led Soldier to Pursue Medical Career

Article
5/12/2022
U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Mathew Maxwell (Left) and U.S. Capt. Brian Ahern, medical personnel assigned to a Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) recovery team, check the pulse of a local villager during excavation operations in the Houaphan province, Laos, Feb. 5, 2019.

Treating wounded soldiers for the first time was a life-changing experience for this enlisted medic.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Nurses Week Toolkit: United In Service, Rooted in Strength

DHA Director Outlines Vision for Health Care Readiness at HIMSS

Article
4/11/2022
Army Lt. General (Dr.) Ron Place during his speech at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society conference held in Orlando, Florida, March 2022. Place’s speech detailed his thoughts on solutions to military health care readiness. (Photo: Claire Reznicek, MHS Communications)

During his speech at HIMSS, Lt. Gen. Place discusses clear and present dangers to military medical care.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness

Dr. Jay Montgomery Details Importance of the Immunization Healthcare Division

Article
4/8/2022
Dr. Jay Montgomery is a medical director for DHA’s Immunization Healthcare Division. In addition to being a clinician and educator, he also volunteers with Wounded Warriors to design, build and fly radio controlled helicopters. (Courtesy Photo)

Dr. Jay Montgomery is a medical director for the Defense Health Agency’s Immunization Healthcare Division’s North Atlantic Region Vaccine Safety Hub. In his role, Montgomery helps address vaccine and immunization questions and concerns.

Recommended Content:

Immunization Healthcare | Health Readiness | Vaccine-Preventable Diseases

The New Public Health Director Talks about His Goals for Force Readiness

Article
4/5/2022
Rear Admiral Brandon Taylor of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps in dress whites at the 2019 National Independence Day Parade where he represented the U.S. Surgeon General as a presiding official with the other services. Taylor was named in February as the new director of the Defense Health Agency’s Public Health directorate. (Photo: Tanisha Blaise, Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division senior public relations and media specialist)

Rear Adm. Brandon Taylor was recently appointed to be the new director for the Defense Health Agency’s Public Health directorate. In an interview, he discussed how he is approaching his new role, his goals for Public Health within DHA, and the importance of Public Health to a medically ready force and a ready medical force.

Recommended Content:

Public Health | Health Readiness | Military Health System Transformation

The Chief of the Army Dental Corps Talks Dental Health & Readiness

Article
2/22/2022
The Army’s top dentist talks about what service members should keep in mind about their dental health.

Here’s what the Army’s top dentist thinks service members should keep in mind about their dental health.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Total Force Fitness | TRICARE Dental Care

Campaign Plan Targets Medical Readiness, Better Health

Article
1/26/2022
(From left) Army Lt. Col. Shimul Patel, chief, Plastic Surgery Services, Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, and U.S. Army Lt. Col. Jessica Peck, chief, Ear, Nose and Throat Clinic, LRMC, operate on a cancer patient during the first microvascular reconstruction and anastomosis procedure ever performed at LRMC, Dec. 3, 2021.

DHA’s five-year plan focused on improving global health care delivery, military readiness.

Recommended Content:

Ready Reliable Care | Health Readiness
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 6
Refine your search
Last Updated: March 08, 2021

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.