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AFMC to eliminate flu shots for some civilians due to budget

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFNS) -- As command officials make tough budget decisions with fewer dollars to spend, Air Force Materiel Command civilian employees who are not beneficiaries of the TRICARE health program will no longer receive AFMC-provided flu shots in advance of the upcoming flu season.

Civilian health is a top priority in AFMC. However, vaccine purchases had to be made early in 2013, when this year's budget numbers were less certain. Analysis determined that less than 20 percent of the civilian population used the AFMC-provided flu vaccine program and officials elected to instead fund AFMC's more comprehensive civilian programs, the Employee Assistance Program and Civilian Health Promotion Services. CHPS is designed to provide wellness educators and screening programs that improve the overall health of the civilian workforce. CHPS offers health education classes, cardiac risk profile screenings and an online employee health management tool at afmcwellness.com.

"In the past, AFMC has offered both the flu vaccine and wellness programs because civilian health and wellness is an important factor that supports our command mission," said Col. James King, the AFMC command surgeon. "Unfortunately, limited resources required us to prioritize and ultimately fund broader health programs that provide more resources for the total health of our civilian workforce."

Two years ago, AFMC was able to expand its civilian wellness program to include offering free flu shots to the entire civilian workforce. In 2012, approximately 12,000 civilians participated in the program.

Today, civilians not covered by TRICARE are urged to contact their private health care providers and get a flu shot.

"Getting a flu shot is the best way to help prevent influenza," King said. "Early immunization is key to protecting yourself and your family members, so we encourage everyone to get vaccinated."

While many civilian employees are no longer eligible for the free on-base flu vaccine, TRICARE continues to provide shots for all active-duty members, military retirees and military family members.

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