FORT DETRICK, Md. -- Medical logistics experts at the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency have started receiving COVID-19 vaccine orders from throughout the Department of Defense, in anticipation of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s emergency use authorization of a vaccine or multiple vaccines.
USAMMA, a direct reporting unit to Army Medical Logistics Command, is the lead for all services, working in collaboration with the Defense Health Agency’s Immunization Health Care Division.
The USAMMA team is collecting COVID-19 vaccine orders from all service branches and submitting them to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
USAMMA will also track vaccine shipments from the vendor to each military site. If required, the team will monitor the re-distribution of vaccines to additional sites throughout the military.
USAMMA Distribution Operations Center Deputy Director Liz Andrews said the vaccine will ship directly from the vendor to several military medical treatment facilities throughout the U.S. -- where it will be used to immunize troops, as well as military beneficiaries -- and bolster their immunity against the worldwide coronavirus pandemic.
There are known logistical challenges. For example, at least one of the vaccine candidates has to be kept at ultra-cold temperatures of minus-80 degrees Celsius.
Andrews said she and her team will not only track the vaccine’s movements but also its temperature throughout shipment to ensure it arrives safe and ready for use.
“This is a challenging mission but also very exciting,” Andrews said. “We are prepared to execute this mission and proud to be a part of Operation Warp Speed.”
Operation Warp Speed, of which the Army’s senior logistician Gen. Gus Perna is the chief operating officer, is a public-private partnership developed to deliver safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines.
In a Defense.gov press release, he said he is committed to streamlining processes that will allow manufacturing and distribution to deliver medical countermeasures at an unprecedented rate.
The USAMMA team is uniquely equipped for the mission because of their expertise in vaccine distribution and cold chain management. USAMMA currently serves as the service lead for ordering and distribution of other military vaccines, such as anthrax and smallpox.
“The military hospitals are already used to working with us, so this made the process smoother for them as they were familiar to our systems and forms,” Andrews said.
Andrews also said the USAMMA Distribution Operations Center web development team also played a crucial role by swiftly adapting USAMMA’s existing vaccine ordering system, so it could be used for COVID-19 vaccine order processing.
“This was a total team effort,” she added, “and we are just honored to be a part of this whole-of-government campaign.”
AMLC, a subordinate command under U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command, is known as the Army’s home for medical logistics.
The command’s mission is to deliver medical materiel readiness through integrated medical materiel distribution, forward positioned stocks, centralized medical materiel management and data management to sustain health services for the operational Army units and Joint Forces in support of large-scale combat operations.