The Department of Defense’s COVID-19 vaccination plan aims to have the entire force vaccinated against COVID-19 by the middle of July.
During a press conference, Army Lieutenant General Ronald J. Place, the director of the Defense Health Agency, and Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Dr. Terry Adirim, said that it is possible to have the entire force vaccinated before the summer is out.
Already more than 600,000 troops from all the services have gotten at least their first shot of the vaccine as the COVID-19 vaccination plan unfolds.
However, General Place and Dr. Adirim said that their current vaccination goal depends on the distribution and uptake rates. For the COVID-19 Vaccination plan to be effective and everyone on the force completely vaccinated by mid-summer, the DOD has to continue to get vaccines at the current rate and also for troops to step forward and get it.
Vaccinations against COVID-19 remain voluntary and troops have to step forward to get their shots.
“Vaccination is one critical part of getting our country back to normal, along with continued testing and adherence to public health measures like masking and social distancing,” Adirim said.
“We just can’t let up at this point. Our DOD personnel have done a phenomenal job. I’m very proud of all of them. We’ve administered more than 1.8 million shots within DOD and more than 5 million shots have gone into arms by military service members in support of the FEMA mission.”
As with the American civilian population, troops can get one of three vaccines, but the exact type depends on availability at each vaccination station, and so it’s impossible to target the vaccine of a specific company. There is the Pfizer version, which requires cold storage and is administered in two shots; there is the Moderna version, which also requires cold storage and is administered in two shots; and finally, there is the Johnson & Johnson, which does not require cold storage and is only administered in a single shot.
“Every single one of these vaccines are shown through rigorous clinical trials to be safe and effective,” Place added.
“The unique advantages to this third vaccine, is first it doesn’t require that cold chain requirement and second only requires one dose, all of which make its efficacy .the actual effectiveness at the operational force to be greater. So we think this is a better vaccine for the circumstances in those austere environments.”
But there are other elements in the Pentagon’s COVID-19 Vaccination plan. Besides trying to vaccinate all of its workforce, military and civilian, the DoD has been contributing medical assistance to U.S. allies in Europe, Africa, and Asia.