CAMP FOSTER, OKINAWA, JAPAN --
U.S. Marine Corps and Navy personnel received the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at the U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa on Camp Foster, Okinawa, Japan, Dec. 29.
The Department of Defense’s COVID-19 vaccination plan is phase driven and designed to protect members within the DOD from COVID-19 as quickly and safely as possible in order to bolster mission readiness and enhance capabilities of DOD members worldwide.
“The service members that received the vaccine today were medical personnel and first responders identified by the DOD’s COVID-19 vaccination plan.” U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Carl Chandler, the officer in charge of the COVID-19 vaccination effort with USNHO
“We have to protect individuals, assets and our effectiveness to respond in case of emergencies.”
Chandler explained that the vaccine is currently optional to service members, but is highly encouraged. When given the opportunity, it is recommended to take it to protect fellow service members and the general population.
The administration of the vaccine functions similarly to the influenza vaccination process, which included a strict screening procedure with proper social distancing and face mask guidelines enforced.
U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Navy First Responders and Medical Personnel Receive Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine
Photo by Lance Cpl. Alex Fairchild
“It starts with a medical screening process that begins prior to the service member’s arrival,” said U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Windell Kellogg, a native of Corpus Christi, Texas, and an independent duty corpsman with USNHO. “When they get here, they are screened again to ensure they are qualified, given the option to take the vaccine, and then processed to receive the vaccination.”
Kellogg added that after the vaccine is administered, service members are observed to verify there are no adverse reactions.
“It’s truly an honor to play a part in the beginning portion of this exit strategy from COVID-19,“ said Chandler. “There’s going to be some waiting on the front and back end, but I appreciate everyone’s patience and professionalism.”
USNHO is the referral center for the entire western Pacific area of operations. It is jointly staffed by active duty Navy, Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps personnel, as well as U. S. civilian and Japanese Master Labor Contract employees. The hospital serves a beneficiary population of 47,000 active duty personnel, family members, civilian employees, contract personnel, and retirees on Okinawa and provides referral services for 189,000 beneficiaries in the Pacific.