FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. – The General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital has been receiving qualified GLWACH-enrolled Tricare patients for vaccination shots since Jan. 11. This week marks round two for some, since there is a three-week gap between the two doses.
According to Col. Aaron Pitney, General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital commander, “for those anxious to receive their first vaccination but who have not yet been contacted, the hospital will continue to receive a supply until all willing participants have been serviced.”
Those identified as high risk are being contacted to receive the vaccine. For everyone else, GLWACH officials ask for flexibility and understanding until Department of Defense availability and population priorities align.
Those who have considered vaccination have some great examples to follow.
Jozzalynn and Zackrie Duke, dependents and enrolled beneficiaries here, were on kidney dialysis nearly four years ago. The siblings were suffering from Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis, or FSGS, a disease in which scar tissue develops on the parts of the kidneys that filter waste from the blood. They were number one and three on the organ recipient list, but since the number two recipient was to receive multiple organs they were able to get kidneys from the same donor, in the same day.
Now the two share the same room where they receive the Covid vaccination—the Dukes currently qualify under the current distribution plan as organ donor recipients, and as GLWACH-enrolled for care.
“I talked to my doctor about the vaccine since we were curious what it would do to an organ recipient,” said Jozalynn, 16, who says she stays active despite what many would consider a setback early in life.
“I go to high school and sing in choir. I try to be as active as I can and play sports. Sometimes it’s a challenge but I push through it to do the best I can,” she added.
Zackrie, 18, works on Fort Leonard Wood at the Post Exchange and though he doesn’t work as often as he’d like to, he says it keeps him active.
When the pandemic began, the Dukes did not do much for months since they were more susceptible to illness. Their mom said it was tough for them but wanted to be protective of their susceptibilities.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, data suggests people who received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine—the one offered at GLWACH—the vaccine is 95 percent effective at preventing laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 illness in people without evidence of previous infection.
Wilma Tucker, 99, is a WWII veteran enrolled at GLWACH. She was contacted by the appointment line for being high risk due to her age and an enrolled beneficiary receiving care here.
Despite the divide on the vaccine’s effectiveness and its concerns, Tucker had her own reason for receiving the vaccine.
“Because it was recommended,” said Tucker who has quite the reason to celebrate the upcoming Valentine’s Day. She and her late husband were married on Feb. 14 during WWII.
Tucker’s wartime service earned her the rank of staff sergeant. She worked as a stenographer overseas in U.S. Forces Headquarters in Austria from 1943 to 1948—working as an administrative assistant to Maj. Gen. Robert Frederick. After she married, she left the Army but remained working overseas.
Staff Sgt. Fevee Fontejon received her second dose of the vaccine Feb. 1 at GLWACH. She had worked in the vaccine clinic before moving to be the noncommissioned officer in charge of the Maternal Child Unit.
She says her mother’s cancer is in remission but anything she can do to protect her mother, as well as the newborns in her unit is worth it.
Fontejon said the vaccine is not just about her protection from the virus. “I wanted to be part of something to protect, not just my family, but also the community and my patients as well,” and added, “When we get our vaccine we are saving lives, one vaccine at a time.”
Pitney said receiving the vaccine, “helps protect yourself, our community and our Army.” He added, “Most side effects were similar to those experienced from the flu vaccine.”
“I am always impressed by the resiliency and adaptability of our force,” he said. “Our community has stayed flexible and vigilant amidst the challenges of the last 10 months. We remain committed to protecting our patients, maintaining readiness and supporting COVID-19 response efforts.”
For the most up-to-date information on vaccination opportunities here, visit GLWACH’s website at https://leonard-wood.tricare.mil or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/glwach.