MADIGAN ARMY MEDICAL CENTER, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. – Madigan's COVID-19 vaccine efforts span the entirety of 2021, from arrival of the first vaccine shipment in mid-December of 2020 to a variety of site options now.
Dec. 15, 2020
Ending months of preparation and moving into active vaccination, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine arrives at Madigan. Madigan has planned for this moment for some time, establishing solid protocols for handling this unique vaccine that requires cold storage. The warehouse, Facilities, Logistics, Nursing, Medicine, and other services and clinics have collaborated to ensure that the receipt, storage and administration of the vaccine goes smoothly, which it does.
Dec. 16, 2020
Dec. 16 found needles going into the arms of first responders on JBLM as emergency room staff, law enforcement officers, firefighters and deploying Soldiers visited the 8th floor of the hospital tower at Madigan to get the first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Local television news crews captured the well-organized scene.
To see a local news station capture the first doses at Madigan, visit: https://www.kiro7.com/news/local/video-dozens-jblm-frontline-workers-receive-first-covid-19-vaccination/de0f014f-2260-4e0b-a47b-dece6c0e224b/
Mid-December through mid-January
Maj. Steven Mock, a physician assistant assigned to the 5th Security Force Assistance Brigade, was interviewed by the local news station when they captured vaccinations being administered to first responders at Madigan on Dec. 16, 2020. He spoke enthusiastically about the opportunity to get the vaccine and curb the spread of COVID-19. He sat in front of the camera twice more to speak directly to Madigan staff with his thoughts on getting the inoculation.
Two of Madigan’s ER doctors provided staff with inside views of the vaccination process and outcome. Dr. Diane DeVita, the chief of emergency room operations, took her camera with her to get her first shot. Lt. Col. Karen McGrane, an emergency medicine physician, gave thorough explanations of how she felt a few days out from each.
From the moment the vaccine was available, Madigan’s medical experts were on the information front line to get all the facts about the vaccine to their patients. Being a pathologist by trade, Madigan’s chief medical officer at the time the vaccine arrived, Col. George Leonard, who has moved to a new duty station since that time, was fascinated by the virus. Studying emerging pathogens was right up his alley; he proved an excellent resource for sharing this information. Read their advice here: https://www.army.mil/article/241944
By the middle of January, COVID vaccine efforts were everywhere at Madigan, and beyond. Madigan was at the forefront of vaccine deployment with its development of a scheduling app and a hotline dedicated to vaccine information.
Read about the scheduling app here: https://health.mil/News/Articles/2021/04/23/DHA-Appointing-Portal-simplifies-signing-up-for-COVID19-vaccination?type=Fact+Sheets
Madigan took its vaccination show on the road in order to ensure that those on the front line of the pandemic got the vaccine as soon as possible. Preventive Medicine staff headed east in a number of shot exercises, often shortened to SHOTEX, to the Yakima Training Center in central Washington state. There they inoculated first responders and essential workers to include law enforcement, firefighters, security guards and medical personnel. With the first SHOTEX taking place on Jan. 12 with a return for the second dose, by early February, the team had given 228 doses of the Pfizer vaccine with efforts continuing beyond these first exercises.
Jan. 23, 2021
Madigan staff opened vaccination appointments for patients 75 years of age or older at the American Lake Conference Center on Lewis North in late January. Madigan Informatics staff, headed by Rick Barnhill, developed an app that allowed for easy scheduling of appointments. With a high rate of vaccination, retirees have taken good advantage of the vaccine’s availability on JBLM.
Mid-February into mid-April
Continuing to follow the DoD’s vaccine eligibility schema, Madigan made the vaccine available to younger and younger age groups over the winter and early spring, culminating in eligibility being open to everyone 12 years of age and older by mid-April.
Following successful trials in youth, the Federal Drug Administration authorized emergency use for the Pfizer vaccine in children as young as 12 years old. With that development, the Pediatrics Clinic started offering the shot in regular clinic visits. Not only did kids start getting their shots, but their parents were lucky enough to be inoculated at these appointments as well, making it a family affair.
Mid-April to mid-May
On April 12, Madigan moved into Phase 2 in the Department of Defense’s vaccine availability schema where all eligible TRICARE beneficiaries 16 years of age or older can receive the vaccine. With that, Madigan opened its drive-thru vaccination site on McChord, a collaboration with the garrison to replicate the ease of last fall’s flu drive.
Using the Arrival/Departure Airfield Control Group’s facilities on the McChord section of JBLM, lanes were established and staffed by personnel from across the base. They created stations for screening to ensure people were eligible and able to get the vaccine, as well as spots to complete paperwork, get the shot and park for a 15-minute waiting period to allow for any potential reactions to present themselves and be dealt with by medical staff before the patients leave the area.
On Friday, May 14, a pop-up vaccination site opens at the Lewis Main Exchange to make use of the foot traffic at the busy shopping facility in order to offer the vaccine to anyone over 12 years of age who is interested in getting the vaccine. The walk-in basis and convenient location are both highlights of this site. It continues to operate every Tuesday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Of the many initiatives undertaken by Madigan staff to inform patients on the vaccine was a special Facebook Live event with the Preventive Medicine team on April 27. Lt. Col. Luke Mease, the chief of Preventive Medicine at the time, and Maj. Leanna Gordon, the chief of epidemiology and disease control discussed a wide range of topics relating to the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. This Facebook Live event was in addition to the pandemic-long JBLM Facebook Live town halls hosted by the commanding general where Madigan’s commanders and chief medical officers have attended and answered a multitude of medical questions. These town halls have ranged from monthly to weekly, depending on changes to operations for the base. Madigan has worked to make sure patients and the community at large are as informed on the vaccine as possible. The COVID-19 vaccine hotline has been in operation and available to answer all vaccine questions since Jan. 15. Dial (253) 968-4744 to ask any vaccine-related question.
By mid-May, one in three enrolled Madigan patients had received their Pfizer shots, becoming fully vaccinated. Over 80,000 shots had been given at that point. Staff made use of multiple avenues to vaccinate and communicate to patients. In April, a campaign for Service Members to speak directly to one another through a series of testimonials where they shared why they chose to get vaccinated. Their reasons ranged from simple statements of hating masks and being tired of not being able to get together with friends and family or get out and engage in the Pacific Northwest sights and activities to wanting to do all they could to protect medically-vulnerable loved ones.
There are a number of factors that individuals must consider when deciding the right time to seek vaccination for themselves, among those is pregnancy and breastfeeding. One of Madigan’s Labor and Delivery physicians took a seat in front of a camera in May in order to address this issue. Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Kaleesha Ramos, one of the Sailors stationed at Navy Medicine Readiness Training Unit Everett who recorded a video to describe why she chose to get the vaccine wrestled with this issue herself. As a breastfeeding mom, she was concerned with the possible effects of the vaccine on her body and breast milk. As a medical professional, she undertook the task of researching the issue, viewing and listening to a number of credible, medical sources. Hearing a doctor with the University of Washington speaking of being in the same situation herself on a radio program was the final piece of information Ramos needed to feel getting the vaccine sooner rather than later was the right choice for her and her family.
To read Ramos’ full story, visit: https://www.dvidshub.net/news/395866/my-why-puget-sound-service-member-tell-us-why-they-got-covid-19-vaccine
In an ongoing attempt to garner the highest level of uptake by the community, Madigan and its base collaborators continued to operate vaccination sites in a multitude of arenas. Starting in June with clinics within units and Soldier-Centered Medical Homes like the Okubo clinic, the vaccine was offered in medical appointments. These, much like with the Pediatrics Clinic, will become the norm for vaccinations going forward. Though, for the time being, the site at the PX will operate as long as there is interest in the community.
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