Lyster Army Health Clinic began administering the first COVID-19 vaccines on Wednesday. The excitement was felt throughout the clinic at this historic milestone in the fight against COVID-19. Since March, clinic staff has adjusted to meet the increased demands the pandemic presented from adjusting to virtual appointments to the drive-through pharmacy.
As personnel waited for their vaccine, the room was calm with a buzz of energy. Some remarked the vaccine was the best Christmas gift they could receive this year. Several people even came in off of holiday block leave to get the vaccination. Doctors, nurses, firefighters, and military police were among some of the first selected to receive the vaccine during the first phase.
After receiving their initial shipment, team members began to execute the plan to inoculate identified critical medical staff and first responders with the Moderna vaccine.
Lyster's Chief Paramedic, Derrick White, was the first to receive the vaccine. His emotions just before receiving the vaccine were "excited and willing". He remarked he didn't hesitate at the opportunity. He felt "thankful to receive this vaccine."
Numerous hours went into preparing for this COVID vaccination campaign, from the initial logistical coordination to the detailed plan to administer the vaccine. Team members from across the clinic coordinated their plan to ensure maximum efficiency and safety throughout the inoculation process. From our Public Health, Logistics, PTMS, PAD, IMD, Primary Care, and many others ensured all components of receiving, storing, transporting to administrating and documentation of the vaccine meet all safety requirements.
Authorized earlier this month for emergency use by the FDA, the Moderna vaccine requires two doses administered 28 days apart. The initial shipment of the vaccine is slotted for Phase 1 personnel. Prioritized DoD personnel are highly encouraged to take the vaccine to protect their health, their families, their community, and lower the public health risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Vaccines authorized for emergency use (EUA) are offered on a voluntary basis.
William Kidd, Deputy to the Commanding General at USAACE and Fort Rucker remarked, “We’re very fortunate that we were able to receive some of the initial doses of the vaccine to cover our critical personnel that support the Soldiers daily. This vaccine enables us to continue the training mission that is here at Fort Rucker of producing our Army aviators. This is not the end of COVID 19 but the beginning of the end.”
Early in the COVID-19 vaccination program, there will be a limited supply of COVID-19 vaccine, and vaccine distribution priorities will focus on:
• Health care workers and emergency services personnel
• Personnel performing activities associated with critical national capabilities
• Select deploying individuals
• Other critical and essential support
• Individuals at the highest risk for developing severe illness from COVID-19
Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Center for Disease Control (CDC), through Operation Warp Speed, have allocated the initial vaccine doses. Additional allocations of the vaccine will be made available as manufacturing continues and CDC allocates.
Lt. Col. Kevin Cummings, USAACE Command Surgeon, “I’m excited to get the vaccine because I think it’s key in us being able to get a hold on this pandemic and move ahead with our mission. Vaccination is the only way that we're going to be able to get on top of the pandemic.
DoD will continue to distribute and administer vaccines through this phased approach until 60% of DoD’s 11.1 million personnel have received the vaccine, at which time DoD anticipates vaccine manufacturing rates to support full-scale, unrestricted vaccine distribution and administration to Department personnel in the same way the Department conducts its annual influenza vaccine program.
Lyster commander, Lt. Col. Danielle Rodondi, remarked, "The fight is not over, but this vaccine arms us to finish the battle. This is a critical turning point, I’m extremely proud of my Lyster team as we embark on this historical effort in the fight against COVID.” She continued to remind the community that getting the vaccine is voluntary, but all DoD personnel are encouraged to get it to protect their health, their families, and their community. Vaccines provide a safe and effective means of countering threats to personal health and military readiness.
Rodondi concluded, “I encourage everyone to continue to wear appropriate masks, practice physical distancing, wash hands, and follow restriction of movement. These actions will protect our safety as a large portion of the population will need to be vaccinated before COVID-19 risks diminish."
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Additional resources to learn about COVID19 visit, the following websites.