Department of Defense Support

Vaccine Clinical Call Center

Passport Health vaccine specialists are under contract with the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to answer questions for service members, their families or health care providers caring for military personnel.

Call the 24-hour toll-free number if you:

  • Have questions about the vaccines you are about to receive or have received.
  • Have a vaccine related health problem.
  • Care for a service member experiencing a health problem after a vaccination.
  • Need help reporting an adverse event.

What are vaccines?
Vaccines prepare the body to fight germs. Most vaccines are given as shots. Service members need vaccines to protect them against diseases they could encounter while deployed or traveling. Vaccines are one of the most important ways people can be protected against serious, preventable infections. Without immunizations the diseases we are now protected from could easily return to infect, disable, and even kill millions.

Where can I find information about vaccines?
Your provider or immunization health care worker can give you a Vaccine Information Statement (VIS). Copies of the VIS are available on the DoD website (www.vaccines.mil), our web site under Resources and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website: http://www.cdc.gov/nip/publications/vis/. Additional trifold information brochures developed by the Department of Defense (DoD) may be provided. Copies of DoD specific documents and policies are available at www.vaccines.mil.

What are vaccine exemptions?
Exemptions excuse people who should not get certain shots. Exemptions are based on a person’s medical history reviewed with a health care provider prior to receiving vaccinations.

What are contraindications?
Contraindications are health problems that suggest a person should not get a certain shot. For example, pregnant women should delay some shots until after their babies are born. People who have certain diseases or take certain medicines should not get some shots. You and your health care provider will make this decision based on your health history.

Vaccine Side Effects:
Side effects may occur after you receive vaccines. Vaccine side effects you may expect include redness, itching, soreness and swelling where the shot was given. You may also have a slight fever, chills, headache, tiredness, muscle and/or joint pain. These effects usually go away on their own or with over-the-counter pain and fever reducers. Generally, side effects last only a few days and disappear with no treatment. If these problems last for more than a few days or get worse, call your health care provider.

More serious or unexpected side effects: If you have chest pain, numbness (tingling or burning), ulcers (sores), blisters, skin rashes, large areas of redness or swelling, call your health care provider right away.

What are adverse events?
Adverse events are health problems that can occur after shots. They can be treated by a health care provider. VIS fact sheets list some (but not all) adverse events related to each shot (they may or may not be caused by the vaccines). Adverse events may need to be treated.

What happens if I have an adverse event?
Contact your health care provider right away if have an adverse event. If it is an emergency, such as chest pain or shortness of breath, go to the nearest hospital. The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System: www.vaers.hhs.gov

What do I need to know about the smallpox vaccine?
The smallpox vaccine is administered to some military personnel based on where they are assigned or what job they have. Because this vaccine is not widely used in the civilian population, specific information about smallpox vaccine may not be readily available outside of the military medical community.

The smallpox vaccine is administered via jabs. Vaccinees are expected to develop a reddish or whitish blister at the vaccination site. See www.smallpox.mil for details. Development of this skin response is called a “TAKE”. The TAKE may have some normal variations that are not considered adverse events and require no specific treatment. The vaccination blister, will progress to a scab which will fall off several weeks later revealing a scar.

Strict screening, administration and site care guidelines should be followed by all smallpox vaccinees. Military personnel are encouraged to call the DoD Clinical Call Center do discuss any symptoms, questions or concerns

Passport Health vaccine specialists work closely with the Walter Reed National Vaccine Healthcare Center and the Military Vaccine (MILVAX) Agency to enhance the medical readiness of the Department of Defense (DoD) by acting as a special clinical support system for the development and implementation of programs, research and services that enhance vaccine safety, efficacy and acceptability.