FORT KNOX, Kentucky - Command Sgt. Maj. Billy Webb, V Corps command sergeant major, held a town hall for lower enlisted V Corps Soldiers May 05, 2021 at the Wayburn Theater on Fort Knox, KY.
Webb used the forum to discuss topics ranging from training exercises, to fact versus fiction about the COVID-19 vaccine, to the concerns of junior enlisted Soldiers.
He started off the town hall by explaining his reasons for holding the town hall and why he got vaccinated. Colonel Ross Witters, V Corps command surgeon, was also there to answer questions along with Webb. Witters wanted Soldiers to have a better understanding of the science and the benefits behind the vaccines and he and Webb encouraged the Soldiers to conduct their own research from reputable sources.
“We’re really trying to get after those questions and those reasons that are making people hesitant to get the vaccine,” said Witters. “Really encouraging, but not being coercive, at the end of the day it's still an individual's choice to get vaccinated or not, It's just strongly encouraged.”
Several Soldiers expressed concerns about what is in the vaccine and how it affects you.
Witters explained how the vaccine creates a protein that mimics the spikes on the COVID virus which triggers the body to think it contracted the virus. The body then creates antibodies specifically against the spikes of that protein and the new antibodies protect us from getting the virus, and if you potentially get it, the antibodies would significantly reduce the severity of the disease.
Witters further explained, “It's a ribonucleic acid vaccine that uses a specially coated piece of RNA that the body absorbs into the cells but doesn't alter the cell's DNA at all, it just goes in, and uses the body's mechanisms to produce a protein-like structure that then is excluded from the cells which activate the body's immune system.
“There's no virus but you’ll get slightly ill for about 24 hours because the body thinks it has a virus then it realizes it doesn't.”
Witters also touched on how people believe the vaccine is not safe or effective because of how fast the vaccine was created.
He explained the vaccine was based on previous science that had already been through years of rigorous research developing other types of vaccines. The scientists took the vaccines which were already prebuilt and adjusted them slightly to now target the specific protein spike found in COVID-19. Using modern medicine and technology with these previously approved vaccines the researchers were able to create a safe and effective vaccine in record time.
“Had that research not been done, there's no way we could have done this in such a short period of time, and because it's already been done … that's the reason why it's so safe. The work had already been done, it just seems like it was done in such a short period of time,” explained Witters. “There was just a lot of legwork that happened prior to us having the pandemic. So it allowed us to really build on top of all that, so we had a strong foundation when we started, so we didn’t have to start from scratch.”
Witters shared that there is a possibility of a booster shot later on for the COVID vaccine just like the flu shot.
As the town hall came to an end, both Webb and Witters strongly encouraged Soldiers to get vaccinated and suggested everyone should do their own research using reliable sources, and not to believe everything they see on social media.
"The vaccine is our strongest weapon against the virus," emphasized Witters.
To conduct your own research, visit the websites for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (cdc.gov) or National Institutes of Health (nih.gov).
Personnel who are interested in getting vaccinated on Fort Knox can call 626-SHOT(7468) or visit ireland.tricare.mil.
Everyone else can search up vaccine finder to locate health providers that offer the vaccine.