WASHINGTON -- As of this week, all Defense Department personnel and beneficiaries can get a COVID-19 vaccination appointment, Dr. Terry Adirim, acting assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, said today.
"We are encouraging everyone to get vaccinated because these vaccines are very effective and safe and are a critical part of us getting back to normal," Adirim said during a press briefing with Army Lt. Gen. Ronald J. Place, director of the Defense Health Agency.
Adirim said the decision to pause the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has had minimal impact on the department because only a small number of that vaccine were allocated to DOD.
The science is not yet out on whether or not a follow-up booster will be needed for those who have already been vaccinated, she said. The department will follow any new guidance on that from the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Place said the vaccine is being administered as fast as it's received. As of yesterday afternoon, we have administered over 2.62 million doses to those eligible within the department and at least another 440,000 doses have been administered to beneficiaries in the Tricare pharmacy and provider network."
Regarding those DOD personnel and family members stationed overseas, Place said that by June 1, 80% of that population should be able to receive a first dose.
The department is closely monitoring the FDA's review of the Pfizer vaccine for adolescents age 12 to 15, he noted. "We're already developing plans to deliver this vaccine to our family member population — both overseas and in the United States — should it be approved for use in this age group."
Place added: "We continue to see vaccine uptake rates increased with each passing week. We're thankful for those who have taken this step, protecting themselves, their teammates, their families and those most vulnerable. I truly expect this trend to continue."