ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- To protect my family…To protect my friends and coworkers…To protect my freedom….These are just a few of the reasons members of Team Andersen have chosen to get the COVID-19 vaccine since it has become available Jan. 12.
The 36th Medical Group began distribution in line with the Department of Defense’s prioritized phased approach for administering the vaccine to strengthen the DoD’s ability to protect our people, maintain readiness, and support the national COVID-19 response.
“Stopping a pandemic requires using all the tools we have available,” Capt. Chawntel Vega, 36th Medical Group Public Health officer. “Wearing masks and social distancing help reduce your chance of being exposed to the virus or spreading it to others, but these measures are not enough. Vaccines will work with your immune system so it will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed, keeping you and others in our community healthy.”
While the vaccine maybe the strongest tool available, some are hesitant to receive it due to the pace it was created and approved.
“The speed of the current vaccines being approved was due to the scientific advancements made over the last 10 years and not due to the cutting of corners or compromising safety,” Vega stated. “There has been complete transparency on the ingredients, and no aluminum, mercury or food allergens were utilized. Additionally, the chance of adverse side effects are extremely low due to the fact that the currently authorized vaccines, both Moderna and Pfizer, are not a live attenuated virus vaccine. Any side effects like fatigue, fever or headache will be short-term and easily managed.”
Due to a limited quantity of available vaccine doses in the initial shipment, the vaccine will only be available to Phase 1-A. These personnel include healthcare providers and support staff, emergency services, and public safety personnel. When the base transitions to the next personnel who are eligible will be notified.
“The vaccine is currently being distributed using a tiered approach from most infection at-risk persons to least infection at-risk persons,” explained Lt. Col. Damian Pardue, 36th Medical Group administrator. “Healthcare personnel, essential workers including service members important to national capabilities, persons with high-risk medical conditions and older adults over the age of sixty-five will be prioritized.
“The DoD has prioritized personnel to receive the vaccine based on the CDC guidance and on the department's own COVID task force assessment of unique mission requirements. The DOD prioritization plan is consistent with CDC guidance and prioritizes health care providers and support personnel, residents and staff of DOD long term care facilities, and other essential workers and high risk beneficiaries to receive the vaccine before other members of the healthy DOD population.
DoD beneficiaries that want the vaccine are asked to be patient as more shipments are expected to arrive here in the coming weeks. For more information on the phase system click here(link to Phase graphic).
“When the vaccine is available to you in the coming months, please get the vaccine,” Vega said. “The sooner we vaccinate and establish herd immunity, the sooner we can stop wearing face coverings and engage with friends and family without posing a risk to their health.”
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