Letterkenny Army Depot personnel began administering COVID-19 vaccinations to depot employees in late January. LEAD is designated as critical infrastructure as part of the defense industrial base and prioritized within the Department of Defense’s vaccination plan.
“For the past 12 months, Letterkenny employees have continued to execute their mission to support the warfighter,” said Col. Gregory Gibbons, LEAD commander. “As essential personnel, they have worked diligently to navigate challenges associated with battling COVID-19. Safety is one of Letterkenny’s top priorities, and we’re committed to protecting our employees.”
In accordance with U.S. Centers for Disease Control guidelines and DOD instructions and guidance, fire, emergency services and critical health care workers were the first to be offered the vaccine. Vaccinations are being administered by Army Occupational Health Clinic personnel, a tenant of LEAD, as well as members of the Dunham Army Health Clinic from Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania.
“As LEAD works through the process of scheduling and administering the vaccine to its employees, we will continue to follow CDC and DOD guidance” said Michelle Kobus, an administrative officer within LEAD’s Installation Operations Center. “The depot continues to remain committed to supporting the health and safety of the employees through the COVID-19 vaccination process.”
“The biggest challenge that the IOC faced in preparing for the vaccine was that this had not been done before,” said Tony Zollo, installation emergency manager within the IOC at LEAD. He explained the IOC had to develop a process that accounted for two doses of the vaccine and was flexible to cope with the vaccine supply system.
“In order to get past this, we had to plan ahead, in some cases, without direct knowledge of when the next doses would arrive,” he said. “Thankfully, things have worked in our favor and we have been able to administer the shots in the correct timeframes.”
The depot is administering the Moderna vaccine to its employees through the DOD’s population prioritization list as vaccines become available.
According to the CDC, the Moderna vaccine does not contain the live virus that causes COVID-19, meaning it cannot infect recipients with COVID-19.
“Instead, the vaccine teaches your body’s immune system to recognize and fight the virus by providing antibodies that the employee’s own body will use to multiply in order to fight the virus,” Kobus said.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the vaccine is over 90% effective when both doses are administered correctly.
“Most employees who have received the vaccine so far were pleased with how the process as a whole has gone,” Zollo said. “This is going to be an ever-evolving process and having the employees provide the IOC with feedback is crucial to continue to improve the process.”
Additional doses of the vaccine are scheduled to arrive in the coming weeks and vaccination appointments will be scheduled as the doses become available. “There is no reason to be afraid of the vaccine,” said Kobus. “However, it is always the employee’s choice whether or not to be vaccinated. They simply need to notify their supervisor with their decision.”
Currently, the IOC is scheduling vaccination days for both LEAD employees and Letterkenny Munitions Center employees in phase 1B of the DOD’s prioritization plan. The depot has completed vaccinations in the first phase of distribution and is currently scheduling second doses for that phase.
“At this time we hope to complete all vaccinations for any LEAD employee, tenant employee or contract employee by June,” Zollo said.
For more information on the COVID-19 vaccination, please visit:
Letterkenny Army Depot is the Army’s premier professional organic maintenance facility that provides overhaul, repair and modifications for tactical missile air defense and space systems, electric power generation equipment and various military vehicles, support systems and protection programs. Letterkenny Army Depot was established in 1942 and is a government-owned and operated industrial installation located in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.
For more information about LEAD, visit https://www.letterkenny.army.mil/