Encephalitis vaccine mandatory for airmen in Japan, Korea

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A Japanese encephalitis vaccination is now mandatory for active-duty airmen stationed to or traveling for 30 days or more in South Korea or Japan. (James Stewart/U.S. Air Force)
From Stripes.com
A Japanese encephalitis vaccination is now mandatory for active-duty airmen stationed to or traveling for 30 days or more in South Korea or Japan. (James Stewart/U.S. Air Force)

Encephalitis vaccine mandatory for airmen in Japan, Korea

by: Stars and Stripes | .
Stars and Stripes | .
published: February 04, 2015

The Japanese encephalitis vaccine is now mandatory for all airmen stationed or temporarily assigned for more than 30 days to Japan or South Korea, the Air Force said in a news release.

The vaccine requirement went into effect Sunday, Feb. 1. Airmen currently stationed or on extended TDY in the two countries will have a year from that date to receive the two-dose vaccination series.

“Because of the serious consequence and nature of the disease, we think it’s important to get people vaccinated,” said Lt. Col. Randy Langsten, the Pacific Air Forces Surgeon General command public health officer.

The virus that causes Japanese encephalitis, or brain inflammation, is spread to humans by infected mosquitoes. Symptoms include high fever, headache, disorientation, coma, tremors and convulsions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and about a quarter of the cases are fatal. Those who survive can be left with cognitive and neurological problems, Langsten said.

The vaccine is recommended but not required for family members and Defense Department civilian employees, the Air Force said.

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