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News | Oct. 15, 2018

DLA Distribution ready for the 2018 Flu Season

By Diana Dawa DLA Distribution Public Affairs

Flu season is upon us and DLA Distribution is ready for it. It is the most predominant yearly obligation for the Shelf Life Special Commodities team here, with the season typically beginning in June.


According to Bob Garrettson, team lead, SLSC Distribution J4, approximately 3.5 million influenza vaccine doses are shipped per year and the seasonal influenza vaccines are just one commodity that requires Cold Chain Management packaging.


“The dosage demand fluctuates annually,” he said, adding, “There is no steady, predictable, or identifiable increase or decrease in demand from year to year.  While the flu vaccine mission demonstrates the CCM team’s flexibility in adjusting to a higher worldwide demand, they also process other vaccines, anti-virals, and temperature-sensitive items including: Japanese Encephalitis vaccine, Typhoid vaccine, and Potassium Bromide Tablets."


“The Seasonal Influenza Vaccines that process through Distribution Susquehanna ship globally and are available for all DoD Military Service members, their dependents, Veterans, and certain FMS customers,” said Garrettson.


Garrettson stated while not a requirement for CCM team members to get their annual flu shot, it is encouraged.


“DLA Distribution Susquehanna, Pennsylvania receives seasonal influenza vaccines for base personnel annually. An e-mail is generated and distributed base-wide each year when the vaccines are available indicating location(s) for inoculation,” said Garrettson. 


Garrettson went on to say “Credit for the success of the program is due to the Distribution Center’s CCM workforce; SLSC team medical subject matter expert, Domon Barr; and DLA Troop Support’s Cold Chain Program Manager, Dana Dallas. The efforts put forth in execution of the CCM mission overall by Domon and Dana collaboratively is  a testament to the great things DLA can and does accomplish when we (as Major Subordinate Commands) work together to provide outstanding Warfighter support.”


While the seasonal influenza vaccine distribution process is a cyclical event, meetings with stakeholders are necessary to ensure processes are followed and requirements met, as well as give the opportunity for face-to-face discussion should any new or additional topics arise that require attention.


A kick-off meeting was held in July between active parties and stakeholders. The meeting is usually held at the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency, Fort Detrick, Maryland.  This year it was held at DLA Distribution headquarters in New Cumberland, Pennsylvania, so everyone could see the actual operation in place – where items are stored, handled, packed out, and readied for shipment.


DLA Troop Support Medical handles the acquisition process by awarding and administering the Influenza Vaccine Program contracts every year and serves as the liaison to DLA’s customers. 


The purpose of their role in the meeting is to go over the contract awards, discuss products under contract, provide any service policy updates, breakdowns (grouping of ordering priority), order process, and any topics related to Distribution’s involvement with the program. Troop Support Medical drives the overall presentation with input from other participants.


Alexander Quiñones, division chief, Pharmaceutical Manufacturer and Distributor, DLA Troop Support, attended the meeting.


“DLA Troop Support Medical has a solid working partnership with DLA Distribution on many projects, but especially with the Seasonal Influenza Vaccine Program.  Over time we have collectively established fluid communication with each other, which helps us anticipate and/or resolve any issues that may come up each year. As we prepare for 2018, both Troop Support Medical and DLA Distribution are making sure we are all on the same page so no one is surprised by anything that may come up along the way,” said Quiñones.


Through constant communication and management of all participants’ expectations Quiñones is confident that the 2018 season will be a success.