Maj. Ellen Jones and Marivel Clayton discuss patient concerns before administering the first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine during the drive-thru COVID-19 vaccination event on May 22.
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Maj. Ellen Jones and Marivel Clayton discuss patient concerns before administering the first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine during the drive-thru COVID-19 vaccination event on May 22. (Photo Credit: Jean Clavette Graves) VIEW ORIGINAL
Staff Sgt. Ethan Shjamdemaar, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, displays his vaccination record after being the first person vaccinated during the drive-thru COVID-19 vaccination event on May 22.
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Staff Sgt. Ethan Shjamdemaar, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, displays his vaccination record after being the first person vaccinated during the drive-thru COVID-19 vaccination event on May 22.
(Photo Credit: Maj. Andrea Kelly)
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FORT POLK, La. — Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital conducted a drive-thru COVID-19 vaccination event May 22, at the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk. The vaccine was offered to everyone in the surrounding community, not just TRICARE beneficiaries or ID card holders. In less than four hours, 124 people received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Spc. Glen Strobach, 317th Engineer Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, and his wife Savanna, were the first in line to get vaccinated.

Glen Strobach said they waited to get vaccinated because he and his wife are both healthy and initially, the vaccine was not available to them.

“I was unable to get the shot initially because I didn’t have underlying conditions and I’m not a first responder,” he said. “Then I had to receive another vaccine for medical readiness which prevented me from getting this one sooner.”

Staff Sgt. Ethan Shjamdemaar, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd BCT, 10th Mtn Div, was taking care of one of his Soldiers Saturday morning and decided to get vaccinated while he was out and about.

“I waited to get vaccinated because as a young, healthy person, I knew there were others who needed it more than I did,” he said. “Once it became available to everyone, I knew I wanted to get it right away.”

Nurses from the primary care medical home and immunizations clinic at BJACH were screening participants and administering the vaccine.

Kimberly Jones, licensed practical nurse, thought the drive-thru event was a great idea.

“More people have the opportunity to get vaccinated in this setting,” she said. “People have obligations with kids and work during normal daytime hours. Having this on a Saturday gave people the chance to get vaccinated around their busy schedules.”

Marivel Clayton, licensed practical nurse from BJACH, has been on the COVID-19 team since the vaccine first became available at JRTC and Fort Polk.

“It’s important to get vaccinated to get rid of COVID-19,” she said. “The number of cases has significantly dropped since we started getting vaccinated. We all want to get back to our normal lives and getting vaccinated is the way to do it.”

BJACH has been administering the Moderna vaccine since the emergency use authorization on Dec, 18.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the messenger RNA vaccine triggers an immune response that teaches the body to protect against future infections.

Maj. Ellen Jones, medical doctor of emergency medicine for BJACH, wants skeptics to know that the technology used to develop this messenger RNA (ribonucleic acid) vaccine has been around nearly 30 years. She said these vaccines can be developed in a laboratory, use readily available materials and can be standardized quickly.

“The science behind this vaccine is very well documented and studied,” she said. “I was a skeptic at first and read all of the studies and the history behind this technology. I have come to the conclusion that it is a modern medical miracle.”

Jones said this technology has been researched extensively and she wished people would focus on how amazing it is.

“If you compare this to the flu vaccine with a 45-65 percent efficacy, for example, this vaccine is 95% effective,” she said. “Statistically, this just shoots every other vaccine out of the water. I believe this is the way of the future for vaccines.”

She said she is excited to see what other viruses will be contained using this technology.