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Soldiers being trained to give immunizations to base civilians

By Jimmy Norris, Stars and Stripes

YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — With even more family members on the way to South Korea as part of the transformation of U.S. forces on the peninsula, the 18th Medical Command had some good news for those who will be seeking immunizations.
Thanks to a team of instructors from Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, 19 more 18th Medical Command soldiers will be qualified Friday to administer immunizations to civilians.

The instructor team was in South Korea to give a five-day immunology course to medics.

Prior to the course, the medics were qualified to give immunizations only to active-duty soldiers. The five days of training are normally part of Walter Reed’s 5½-week immunization and allergy technician course.

But the cost and loss of manpower involved in sending them on temporary duty for that training would not have been practical, said Master Sgt. Desmond Smith, 18th Medical Command spokesman.

“It’s easier to bring someone here than to send 19 soldiers to the States,” he said.
The visiting instructors did not cover the allergy portion of the 5½-week course, so students will not receive what the Army calls an additional skill identifier. They will, however, receive a certificate of completion for their training and a memorandum verifying they have completed the training necessary to give immunizations to children.

“There was clearly a need at 121 [Combat Support Hospital] to increase the number of people who could give pediatric immunizations,” said Maj. Cecilia Mikita, who led the team from Walter Reed.

The training covered 20 types of immunizations and six ways to administer them. It also included lectures on record keeping, the effects of various vaccines on the body, and the proper handling and storage of vaccines.

Included in the hands-on portion of the course were stations at the hospital’s pediatric immunization clinic, 1st Replacement Center’s medical in-processing area, and Yongsan Garrison’s Troop Medical Clinic.

“A lot of stuff I learned on the job, but this course gives you a real standard,” said student Pfc. David Dasilma. “I can educate my patients now and tell them why they need a shot and what it does to their body.”
Smith said the training should lead to a decrease in wait times at immunization clinics.

“It helps because if you come in for a shot there’s more than one person available to give it now,” he said.