CAMP ZAMA, Japan (Jan. 7, 2020) – Although the COVID-19 vaccine is voluntary, Army leaders who received doses here Jan. 6 wholeheartedly recommend getting it.“It’s an important step toward getting back to a sense of normalcy and making sure our community is healthy and safe,” said Col. Thomas Matelski, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Japan, minutes after receiving the vaccine. “This is a great start and we’re looking forward to immunizing the rest of the community.”Since the pandemic began, leaders have talked about “doing your part,” by social distancing, wearing a mask and frequent hand washing, Matelski said, adding that now it is time to add COVID-19 immunization to that list.Matelski, along with USAG Japan Command Sgt. Maj. Justin Turner, the command teams of U.S. Army Medical Department Activity ̶ Japan and the 38th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, as well as many other personnel, received vaccinations at the Community Recreation Center here Jan. 6. Medical personnel are administering the vaccine to military and civilian personnel in prioritized groups that receive advance notice of when to arrive.Col. Tanya Peacock, commander of MEDDAC-J, said it is important for people to get vaccinated because it not only protects individuals, but the community as well.“Our MEDDAC-Japan team has worked very hard to make this a safe and positive experience for our community,” Peacock said.The vaccination process begins with a screening for COVID-19, paperwork and the availability of educational material, Peacock said.“Most people do receive the information prior to coming here, but in the event that you want to speak with a physician or a health care provider, we offer you that opportunity,” Peacock said.Then, personnel process the patient’s paperwork and he or she receives the shot, Peacock said.Afterward, patients receive an appointment for their second shot 28 days later, and there is a waiting area where the patients must wait 15 minutes before leaving, Peacock said.MEDDAC-J is administering the Moderna vaccine, Peacock said.MEDDAC-J Command Sgt. Maj. Tanya Boudreaux said she hopes community members who are apprehensive about getting the vaccine will have more confidence after seeing leaders receive the vaccine.“If they see us do it, and they see that we don’t have any bad reactions or anything, hopefully it will encourage them to get the vaccine as well,” Boudreaux said. “So far the process has been great.”Turner said he found the process “smooth and seamless,” and was glad to have the opportunity to show the community that the vaccine is safe.“I had no issues at all—in and out,” Turner said. “Overall, [the vaccine is meant] to keep the community safer and healthier.”Likewise, Col. Matthew Dalton, commander of the 38th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, and 38th ADA Command Sgt. Maj. Kellen Rowley said they encourage community members to receive the vaccine.“This doesn’t just provide health of individuals,” Dalton said. “It protects the health of our Soldiers, our families and the community.”Rowley, meanwhile, said, “The sooner we all do this, the sooner we can all return to a normal life.”To learn more about the Moderna vaccine from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, visit https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/info-by-product/moderna/index.html.