The U.S. Army Health Clinic Wiesbaden conducted its first inoculations of healthcare workers with the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 30.The arrival of the vaccine paves the way for a phased vaccine distribution plan to protect our military communities overseas against COVID-19.“The vaccines are vitally important to the protection of our soldiers, our families and the community of Wiesbaden,” said Brig. Gen. Jed Schaertl, deputy commanding general for Mobilization and Reserve Affairs, U.S. Army Europe-Africa; and senior responsible officer at U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden. “It is great to have the COVID vaccine as a late Christmas present. It is great to see that we are taking care of our health care workers and first responders early on in the availability of the vaccination.”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.“We are excited to offer this vaccine to the Wiesbaden community,” said Lt. Col. James McWherter, commander of Wiesbaden Army Health Clinic. “As we begin, the vaccine will be distributed in a phased approach which is in line with Department of Defense guidance and prioritizes individuals based on a number of factors. Our team has worked diligently to combat this virus over the last year and as we begin vaccinating, we are happy to take the fight to the virus and are confident our efforts will help bring an end to this pandemic.”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.