Immunizations help Airmen maintain readiness

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Richard Sangston, 20th Medical Operations Squadron immunizations clinic noncommissioned officer in charge, helps patients at the front desk of the immunizations clinic at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Oct. 23, 2017.

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Richard Sangston, 20th Medical Operations Squadron immunizations clinic noncommissioned officer in charge, helps patients at the front desk of the immunizations clinic at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Oct. 23, 2017. The Shaw clinic Airmen work together with other military immunizations clinics including Fort Gordon, Georgia, and Fort Jackson, South Carolina, to ensure all vaccination needs are met. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Destinee Sweeney)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Tamika Bradley, 20th Medical Operations Squadron allergy and immunizations technician, injects a vaccine into a patient at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Oct. 23, 2017.

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Tamika Bradley, 20th Medical Operations Squadron allergy and immunizations technician, injects a vaccine into a patient at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Oct. 23, 2017. Service members are required to maintain their individual medical readiness, to include vaccines, prior to deployment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Destinee Sweeney)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jake Spencer, 20th Medical Operations Squadron immunizations backup technician, prepares a vaccine for Capt. Adam Gadson, 20th Logistics Readiness Squadron operations officer, at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Oct. 23, 2017.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jake Spencer, 20th Medical Operations Squadron immunizations backup technician, prepares a vaccine for Capt. Adam Gadson, 20th Logistics Readiness Squadron operations officer, at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Oct. 23, 2017. Immunizations Airmen are responsible for maintaining, preparing and administering vaccines to keep the Team Shaw community healthy. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Destinee Sweeney)

Information pamphlets hang on the wall of the 20th Medical Operations Squadron immunizations clinic at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Oct. 23, 2017.

Information pamphlets hang on the wall of the 20th Medical Operations Squadron immunizations clinic at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Oct. 23, 2017. The immunizations Airmen offer approximately 32 different vaccines to active duty Airmen and Soldiers as well as retirees and dependents. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Destinee Sweeney)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jordan Herrick, 20th Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter, receives a vaccine from Senior Airman Tamika Bradley, 20th Medical Operations Squadron allergy and immunizations technician, at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Oct. 23, 2017.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jordan Herrick, 20th Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter, receives a vaccine from Senior Airman Tamika Bradley, 20th Medical Operations Squadron allergy and immunizations technician, at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Oct. 23, 2017. In addition to providing vaccinations for active duty service members, the immunizations clinic Airmen also provide vaccines for family members, helping service members to stay focused on the mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Destinee Sweeney)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Tamika Bradley, 20th Medical Operations Squadron allergy and immunizations technician, opens packets of wipes prior to administering a vaccine at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Oct. 23, 2017.

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Tamika Bradley, 20th Medical Operations Squadron allergy and immunizations technician, opens packets of wipes prior to administering a vaccine at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Oct. 23, 2017. During flu season, the immunizations clinic Airmen average 200 vaccines per day, prioritizing active duty service members and high-risk individuals, including children between six months and five years of age, adults 65 and older, and individuals with immuno-comprising conditions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Destinee Sweeney)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Tamika Bradley, 20th Medical Operations Squadron (MDOS) allergy and immunizations technician, left, speaks with Tech. Sgt. Richard Sangston, 20th MDOS immunizations clinic noncommissioned officer in charge, at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Oct. 23, 2017.

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Tamika Bradley, 20th Medical Operations Squadron (MDOS) allergy and immunizations technician, left, speaks with Tech. Sgt. Richard Sangston, 20th MDOS immunizations clinic noncommissioned officer in charge, at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Oct. 23, 2017. The immunizations clinic currently has three assigned Airmen, however the 20th Medical Group provides augmentees for the clinic if necessary. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Destinee Sweeney)

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- When an F-16CM Fighting Falcon participates in an exercise, the 20th Fighter Wing pilots and intelligence Airmen attached to the aircraft gain valuable tactical knowledge, advancing in skill with every flight to ensure optimum competence is obtained for the actual battlefield.

Similar to the learning curve of each F-16 exercise, vaccines build upon the immune system’s experience, allowing a human body the chance to defeat a weakened or dead version of a disease and become more effective at defending itself.

Staff Sgt. Jake Spencer, 20th Medical Operations Squadron immunizations backup technician, said on a day-to-day basis the immunizations clinic vaccinates individuals starting around two months of age and totals approximately 23,000 people a year including active-duty Airmen and Soldiers, civilians, dependents and retirees.

Operating based off of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, technicians provide a variety of immunizations from the annual flu shot to anthrax and yellow fever.

Prior to deploying, Airmen are required to maintain their individual medical readiness. Part of this readiness includes receiving any necessary vaccinations as well as shots specific for their destination.

“(The Airmen) are going to locations that may have some special circumstances,” said Spencer. “Some locations are having outbreaks of polio. We don’t think about polio here in the U.S., because it’s eradicated here, but other countries don’t vaccinate like we do or have strict guidelines. We have to vaccinate those members going to those locations to give them added protection.”

Even after their patients have left, the clinic continues to take care of them from the homefront, working to ensure their families left behind stay healthy.

“We give the Airmen peace of mind on this end so they know that whatever they’re doing they can stay completely focused,” said Senior Airman Tamika Bradley, 20th MDOS allergy and immunizations technician. “We’ve got their backs over here, vaccinating their children, spouses and other dependents.”

Although the 20th MDOS immunizations clinic may not be in an exercise or a deployed location, they are still helping to maintain readiness every day, protecting the 20th FW mission as well as its Airmen and families.