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FLW vaccinates more personnel
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (Feb. 25, 2009) — Public affairs personnel announced Wednesday evening that additional soldiers and staff members will receive vaccinations, following a cluster of meningitis cases that killed two trainees earlier this month in the same training company.

Last week, all trainees in the unit from which both trainees came, Company A of the 554th Engineer Battalion, received pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPV23) and Bicillin antibiotic, based on the recommendations of two doctors from the Centers for Disease Control who came to Fort Leonard Wood at the invitation of the post’s commanding general. Company H of the same battalion also received the vaccine.

The two companies, each with about 300 trainees learning to be heavy equipment operators, had 20 trainees come down with serious cases of pneumonia. That’s out of 36 pneumonia cases on the entire post, a much higher infection rate than would ordinarily be expected even with the rigors of military training and close living quarters.

The new vaccinations will affect not only trainees but also “military cadre and staff” of the two companies, according to the Fort Leonard Wood press release. Post public affairs personnel couldn’t immediately be reached for comment on the press release, which was sent out after ordinary duty hours, but “military cadre and staff” for advanced individual training units typically means enlisted sergeants and officers as well as civilian support personnel involved in training soldiers for their future military specialty.

“Cadre members were selected based upon their direct interaction and prolonged close contact with the Soldiers of Alpha and Hotel companies,” according to the press release. “In addition, they will also receive nasal and

throat swabs and be asked to complete a written survey at the time of vaccination.”

The press release indicated that the decision to vaccinate the additional personnel was made by personnel at General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital, in consultation with the U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine and the Great Plains Medical Regional Command.

Additional vaccinations are not expected, according to post officials.

“The remaining population of Fort Leonard Wood and the local community are not believed to be at increased risk of illness due to their infrequent contact” with soldiers from the two units, according to the press release. “Therefore vaccination is not recommended for these populations.”

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