Select civilian and military personnel at Fort McCoy began receiving COVID-19 vaccinations Jan. 26 through the Fort McCoy Occupational Health Clinic.
The first vaccinations on Jan. 26 were for 10 people, which included medical staff, garrison leadership, and related frontline personnel. More vaccinations were given to first responders, including police and fire personnel with the Directorate of Emergency Services, on Jan. 28 and 29. Others continued to receive the vaccination into early February.
The Occupational Health Clinic, under guidance of Blanchfield Army Community Hospital at Fort Campbell, Ky., began administering the COVID-19 vaccinations after receiving an initial shipment of vaccines. Fort McCoy’s first vaccine recipient was Erica Miller, a registered nurse at clinic. She then began administering vaccines to others.
Miller coordinated vaccine distribution at the clinic with Physician Assistant Tracy Saboy and Health Technician Heather Green.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the vaccine helps prevent the spread of COVID-19 and will help bring the pandemic to an end.
“As Americans get vaccinated over the next few months, it is important to continue to follow public health safety measures,” it states on the department website at www.hhs.gov/coronavirus/covid-19-vaccines/index.html. “Wear a mask, wash your hands, and watch your distance to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your community.”
COVID-19 vaccines were developed in part through the Department of Defense’s Operation Warp Speed. The first vaccines were made available in December 2020 and continue to be distributed.
The Department of Defense describes Operation Warp Speed as “an unprecedented leap toward a historic breakthrough that will save countless lives. It is leveraging the best experts from the federal government and private industry to develop effective vaccines and therapeutics quickly without compromising safety.”
Learn more about Operation Warp Speed at www.defense.gov/Explore/Spotlight/Coronavirus/Operation-Warp-Speed.
Since the pandemic response began at Fort McCoy in March 2020, the installation worked to bring back services and training after initially shutting down nearly everything as part of the early pandemic response.
As services began to reopen, strong COVID-19 protective measures had to be installed. The post already had policy letter 37 in place, which enforced sanitation and hygiene procedures for the Fort McCoy community and workforce. Next, the Fort McCoy team worked to create policy letter 38, which spells out how to operate and train in a COVID-19 environment.
The policy letters also addressed the return of training activities at Fort McCoy, which resumed July 7, 2020.
“We had to look at how we can train in a very safe and effective manner in order to build readiness,” said Garrison Commander Col. Michael Poss in an article about the installation’s pandemic response in 2020. “That’s important because, as the Army, that is what we’re all about. It’s about conducting training and being ready.”
Training and the majority of regular activities have resumed at Fort McCoy since the July 2020 reopening of many services and training. Now that the vaccines have arrived, they will continue to build on protective measures already in place, officials said.
In the same 2020 article, Poss said the response to the pandemic caused many changes at Fort McCoy, but he said the Fort McCoy team or “Team McCoy” — which includes garrison and tenant organizations on post — really stepped up to be successful and remains successful in operating in a pandemic environment.
“Every morning I remind myself to be a humble servant as a leader and to continue to balance family and work commitments,” Poss said about working with Team McCoy. “When I go about my day, there are so many opportunities where I thank people for what they are doing. I am so proud of this workforce here at Fort McCoy.”