GOTENBA, SHIZUOKA, Japan --
Marines, Sailors, and civilians at Combined Arms Training Center Camp Fuji lined up for, what was for most, their first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, February 18, Gotemba, Japan.
Approximately 86% of eligible CATC Camp Fuji personnel received the first dose, and of that, 27% received their second dose.
1st Lt. Demond Glover, company commander of CATC Camp Fuji, said that number is expected to climb. “We had a lot of Marines who had been on the fence, but seeing the base’s effort showed them they should get it, they should be protected.”
CATC Camp Fuji Branch Health Annex personnel had to carefully identify who on base was both eligible and willing to receive a vaccine to ensure nothing went to waste, and ended up with an even greater acceptance rate than previously anticipated.
“We had a lot of Marines who had been on the fence, but seeing the base’s effort showed them they should get it, they should be protected.” 1st Lt. Demond Glover, company commander of CATC Camp Fuji
HM1 Andre Cooper, x-ray tech and assistant lead petty officer with CATC Camp Fuji Branch Health Annex, said fighting misinformation is key in service member acceptance. “We put the information out and are in constant contact with the [commanding officer], and information is disseminated accordingly.”
HM1 Frederick Ehlers, preventive medicine technician with CATC Camp Fuji Branch Health Annex, who oversaw the event, said there is a lot of preparation and planning involved with administering the vaccine.
After receiving the doses from Naval Hospital Yokosuka, they had to be stored at -20 degrees Celsius and then thawed for use. The CDC recommends about two and a half hours to thaw the vaccine, which then has a 30 day shelf life. Once the vials are punctured however, they must be used within the day or the vial will go to waste. Any wasted or lost doses must be reported to the Department of Defense, meaning personnel can’t over- or underestimate.
Such small margins for error means commanders and medical personnel must carefully ensure the process runs smoothly, "You have to be as thorough as possible. I think that’s just our training, it becomes second nature,” HM1 Cooper said.
HM1 Ehlers was hopeful about the installation’s turnout, “I’m glad people are accepting the vaccine, because it’s either you get the virus or you get inoculated, that’s the only way to get to herd immunity.”