LANDSTUHL, Germany –
Landstuhl Regional Medical Center conducted its first inoculations of healthcare workers with the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 31.
The arrival of the vaccine paves the way for a phased vaccine distribution plan to protect our military communities overseas against COVID-19.
“We’re very excited to be one of the early sites to launch this counter-attack against the COVID -19 pandemic,” said U.S. Army Col. Michael Weber, LRMC commander. “Getting the vaccine is an important part of defending yourself, defending your family, and defending your community. In the end, this is a global effort against this pandemic and getting the vaccine is part of an individual contribution to the ultimate success that we are going to have against it. The faster we are able to put an end to this pandemic, the better we will be able to protect lives going forward.”
Initial vaccinations will be limited to healthcare workers and first responders to assess the process and will be used to plan expanded distribution phases, where each service will request and administer the vaccine through a Defense Department-wide phased vaccination approach.
“It feels great to be able to get the vaccine,” said Air Force 1st Lt. Kedrian Guy, a Clinical Nurse at LRMC. “I feel like now that we have the vaccine available we may be able to really flatten the curve.”
Guy, who has spent the past 15 years in the Air Force and has been at LRMC for one year, said he didn’t hesitate to come to the hospital - even on his day off - to receive his vaccine.
“Being on the frontline of this pandemic, I feel like it was my responsibility to be a good steward for everyone else that may not be able to receive the vaccine so that I am keeping the community safe,” he said.
Each phase of the vaccine distribution process is designed to safely protect DoD personnel from COVID-19 as quickly as possible.
“As we work through vaccinating all of our healthcare personnel and first responders, we will also begin to look at our highly-deployable forces here in Europe, and our high-risk populations,” said Brig. Gen. Mark Thompson, Regional Health Command Europe commanding general. “After that, we’ll be able to focus on our healthy service members, civilians, families, retirees not part of the high-risk population, etc.”
As the distribution is carried out, information on the timeline of subsequent phases will be provided through command channels and through installation web and social media platforms.
Under U.S. Food and Drug Administration emergency use approval, the vaccine is voluntary but recommended by the military.
“The FDA only authorizes the use of a COVID-19 vaccine after careful and rigorous testing and trials,” said Thompson. “We are excited to be playing a role in providing a very safe and effective vaccine to our military community. This vaccine is a vital part of our way forward to protect our people, their families and the communities where we live and work.”
All DoD personnel will continue to wear appropriate masks, practice physical distancing, wash hands, follow restriction of movement and adhere to host nation restrictions for the safety of their communities, as a large portion of the population will need to be vaccinated before COVID-19 risks diminish.