BAVARIA, Germany -- U.S. Army Health Clinics in Ansbach, Grafenwoehr and Vilseck conducted their first inoculations of healthcare workers with the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine Dec. 28, 2020.The arrival of the Moderna vaccine paves the way for a phased vaccine distribution plan to protect our military communities overseas against COVID-19.Initial vaccinations will be limited to healthcare workers and first responders to assess the process and will be used to plan expanded distribution, where each service will request and administer the vaccine through a Defense Department-wide phased vaccination approach.“As we start to vaccinate in the initial phases, we are following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Department of Defense guidance on priority for individuals,” said Col. E. Lee Bryan, commander of U.S. Army Medical Department Activity Bavaria. “As this expands to include larger numbers of people over the next several months, we will then start to see the effects. But it won’t be overnight.”Each phase of the vaccine distribution process is designed to safely protect Department of Defense 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 distribution is carried out, information of those timelines will be provided through command channels and through installation webpages 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.“For anyone who is debating whether they should be vaccinated when it is offered, I would say please take a look at all the information available and make a personal decision based on facts and the science,” Bryan noted.Related Links:Army.mil: Europe NewsU.S. Army COVID-19 Guidance