U.S. ARMY GARRISON HUMPHREYS, PYEONGTAEK, REPUBLIC OF KOREA — Brian D. Allgood Army Community Hospital (BDAACH) started inoculating its military and civilian frontline healthcare workers and first responders with Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine on December 29, 2020 in U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys.
As part of Department of Defense (DOD)’s ‘Operation Warp Speed’, BDAACH was selected as one of the initial overseas vaccination sites to validate DOD’s distribution and administration of COVID-19 vaccine. The hospital was also the first Military Treatment Facility (MTF) to kick off the operation in Korean peninsula followed by the 51th Medical Group at Osan Air Base and the 8th Medical Group at Kunsan Air Base.
Prior to opening the vaccine clinic, BDAACH had been fully prepared to safely receive and store the COVID-19 vaccine while awaiting the arrival of the vaccine on December 28, 2020. A close working relationship between the logistics and the pharmacy manifested throughout that resulted in the secured handling of the vaccine. The team work ensured accurately storing controlled substances in a cold-storage and monitoring of the temperature of the vaccine.
The first frontline healthcare worker to receive the vaccine was Lt. Col. Brian Cohee, working in the Intensive Care Unit. As a pulmonologist and a ICU physician who is at higher risk of getting exposed to the disease, Cohee shared his gratitude for getting the vaccine and for United States Forces Korea and the Republic Of Korea’s team effort to combat the spread of the disease.
“I am a part of a large team of healthcare workers, I am thankful for the huge efforts that so many others at United States Forces Korea and the Republic Of Korea have made to combat the spread of the disease” said Cohee. “Because of that, we have had very limited number of severe COVID-19 cases here at BDAACH.”
Cohee also encouraged others to make the informed decision about the vaccine and showed his hopefulness that the vaccine will help us to move beyond the pandemic and back to normalcy.
A line of Staff from Emergency Department, Intensive Care Unit and COVID Isolation Facility who fall under Phase 1a sub-tier 1 in the DoD Population Schema chart, followed Cohee. As the Moderna COVID vaccine is currently issued under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA), only the staff who volunteered received the vaccine. One by one, they were provided with the vaccine that will protect them and enable them to care of the military community in Korean peninsula.
BDAACH strictly implemented DOD’s standardized and coordinated strategy for prioritizing the population and continue to roll out the vaccine in a phased approach. Capt. Lauren Snodgrass, the officer in charge of the COVID Immunization Clinic, shared the team’s excitement for rolling out of the vaccine.
“We are highly motivated and at the same time understand the importance of the vaccination team’s competence and standardized operation to safely and accurately administer the vaccine throughout the process” said Snodgrass. “This is a team of confident and well-trained professionals who have proper skillsets to execute mission like this and they gained special knowledge on how to handle the COVID-19 vaccine including online, hands-on training, and research.”
Along with training and educating the vaccination team, BDAACH leadership had conducted Town Hall meetings for the staff from December 21 through 23, 2020 to help educate the staff so that they can make informed decisions about receiving the vaccine. The Town Hall meetings were conducted in the two way communication and transparent manner, where current and accurate scientific information on the Moderna vaccine was shared. The staff were given opportunities to ask any questions that may concern them regarding the vaccine.
Upon completion of inoculating the healthcare professionals within the hospital, BDAACH will continue on administering the COVID-19 vaccine to USFK community.
“Today we took a major step that will strengthen our ability to protect our team, maintain readiness, support both our nation and the host nation’s COVID-19 response, and we can not be more proud to be part of the mission” said Col. Huy Luu, the Hospital Commander. “We will ensure a safe and effective vaccine operation to keep USFK’s number one priority, protecting the force to protect the mission.”