Believe it or not, many vaccines are available that we don’t routinely get.
And one, the adenovirus vaccine, you can only get if you join the military.
Which Vaccines Do You Get When You Join the Military?
But don’t folks get a lot of vaccines when they join the military?
Whether you join the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard, health personnel will evaluate your immunity status by checking your titers to routine vaccine-preventable diseases. So no, if you were wondering, it doesn’t seem like they just check the vaccine records that you might bring from your pediatrician.
And then once they assess your immunization or immunity status, you will get vaccinated:
- upon accession – adenovirus, influenza, meningococcal, MMR, Tdap, and chicken pox
- during the first or second half of collective training – hep A, hep B, and polio (if needed) and other vaccines based on risk
So, in addition to getting caught up on all routine vaccines that they might be missing, there are other “military vaccines” that they might need, including:
- Adenovirus vaccine – given to enlisted soldiers during basic training
- Anthrax vaccine – only military personnel with extra risk, although some civilians can get this vaccine too
- Smallpox vaccine – only military personnel who are high risk and smallpox epidemic response team members, although some civilians can get this vaccine too
Like the recommendations for civilians, other vaccines are mainly given to military personal if they have extra risk based on where they are being deployed.
- Cholera – only military personnel with extra risk based on deployment or travel to endemic areas
- Japanese encephalitis – only military personnel with extra risk based on deployment or travel to endemic area in Eastern Asia and certain western Pacific Islands
- Rabies vaccine – pre-exposure vaccination is only for military personnel with animal control duties or with extra risk based on deployment, including special operations personnel
- Typhoid vaccine – only military personnel with extra risk based on deployment or travel to typhoid-endemic areas and other areas with poor sanitation.
- Yellow fever vaccine – only military personnel with extra risk based on deployment or travel to yellow-fever-endemic areas in sub-Saharan Africa and tropical South America.
These are the same vaccines that we would get if we traveled to high risk areas.
Military Vaccines in Development
It shouldn’t be a surprise that the military does research on infectious diseases and vaccines.
Members of the military are often put at great risk for known and emerging diseases, like Ebola, Zika, and malaria.
That’s why some vaccines might have been given as an investigational new drug in special situations, typically when “individuals who have a high occupational risk – laboratory workers, facilities inspectors, vaccine manufacturers and certain military response teams.”
These vaccines, which were initially developed at US Army labs, are no longer being produced, but have included:
- Argentine hemorrhagic fever (Junin virus) vaccine
- Chikungunya fever vaccine
- Eastern equine encephalitis vaccine
- Q fever vaccine
- Rift Valley fever vaccine
- Tularemia vaccine
- Venezuelan equine encephalitis vaccine
- Western equine encephalitis vaccine
Today, the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) “is a leader in global efforts against the world’s most pervasive and high impact infectious diseases.”
WRAIR is working on vaccines for HIV, Ebola, MERS, and Zika.
What to Know About Military Vaccines
You will need some extra vaccines when you enlist in the military, but how many will depend on if you are up-to-date when you join and your area of responsibility. So there is no one-size-fits-all military immunization schedule.
More on Military Vaccines
- Immunization Healthcare
- Vaccines for Military Members
- Vaccine Recommendations by Area of Responsibility
- Accession Screening and Immunization Program
- Immunization Schedules
- Army Regulation on Immunizations
- Immunization Exemptions in the Military
- Are Vaccines Covered by Tricare?
- Joint Regulation on Immunizations and Chemoprophylaxis for the Prevention of Infectious Diseases
- Cholera Disease and Cholera Vaccine
- Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and HPV Vaccines
- Current Status of Vaccines for Military Personnel (2002)
- U.S. Military and Vaccine History
- Malaria vaccine candidate proves effective in Navy Medicine clinical trial
- U.S. Military HIV Research Program
- DoD vaccine research saves military, civilian lives
- Army-developed Zika vaccine induces strong immune response in early trials
- Ebola Vaccine Studies
- Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) Vaccine Studies
- Contact the Immunization Healthcare Branch
- Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program (CICP)
- CDC – Who Should Get the Smallpox Vaccine
- CDC – Smallpox Vaccination Strategies
- FDA – Vaccines Licensed for Use in the United States
- FDA – List of Vaccines Used in United States
- WHO – Vaccines List
- Vaccinations and Medications during Service