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501st CSW begins COVID-19 vaccinations

COVID-19 vaccine

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Yarely Jerez-Ortiz, 423rd Medical Squadron family practice flight chief, prepares to administer the COVID-19 vaccine at RAF Alconbury, England, Dec. 28, 2020. 501st Combat Support Wing personnel will be prioritized to receive the vaccine based on the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the DoD COVID Task Force’s assessment of unique DoD mission requirements. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Eugene Oliver)

COVID-19 vaccine

An Airman from the 501st Combat Support Wing receives the COVID-19 vaccine at RAF Alconbury, England, Dec. 28, 2020. 501st CSW personnel will be prioritized to receive the vaccine based on the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the DoD COVID Task Force’s assessment of unique DoD mission requirements. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Eugene Oliver)

COVID-19 vaccine

The 501st Combat Support Wing administered its first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines at RAF Alconbury, England, Dec. 28, 2020. 501st CSW personnel will be prioritized to receive the vaccine based on the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the DoD COVID Task Force’s assessment of unique DoD mission requirements. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Eugene Oliver)

COVID-19 vaccine

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Elizabeth Hoettels, right, 423rd Medical Squadron commander, receives the COVID-19 vaccine at RAF Alconbury, England, Dec. 28, 2020. 501st CSW personnel will be prioritized to receive the vaccine based on the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the DoD COVID Task Force’s assessment of unique DoD mission requirements. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Eugene Oliver)

RAF ALCONBURY, England --

The 423rd Medical Squadron clinic conducted their first vaccinations of healthcare workers with the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at RAF Alconbury, England starting on Dec. 28. In addition, the 422d Medical Squadron clinic administered the vaccine at RAF Croughton, England on Dec. 30. 

The arrival of the vaccine paves the way for a phased vaccine distribution plan to protect military communities overseas against COVID-19.

Initial quantities of the vaccine are limited and will be distributed on a rolling delivery basis as more vaccines become available. Under the current U.S Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) emergency use approval, the vaccine is voluntary but recommended by the military.

“Early vaccine access is critical to ensuring the broader health and safety of our community,” said Lt. Col. Elizabeth Hoettels, 423rd MDS commander. “Having the availability to provide this optional vaccine to our frontline workers to include our security forces, firefighters, and medical personnel can help ensure they can continue to fulfill their critical role in our wing.”

“Additional doses for the rest of our community will be crucial to assisting in ensuring enough people can gain the immunity to stop the spread of COVID-19.”

Each phase of the vaccine distribution process is designed to safely protect DOD personnel from COVID-19 as quickly as possible.

“The COVID-19 vaccine will be distributed in phases based on the DOD population scheme,” said Hoettels. “Information will be shared throughout the commands and official 501st Combat Support Wing channels which will inform our community on where and when we will be vaccinating members based on the phases.”

As vaccines begin to roll out, Hoettels spoke on how her Airmen and doctors in the 423rd MDS have handled implementing the vaccination process.

“The Pathfinder medics of the 423rd MDS have been absolute rock stars working through the coordination of receiving the vaccine on site and planning on how to safely and effectively distribute it to our community,” said Hoettels. “ Two months of wargaming distribution methodologies, a plethora of virtual training for our COVID vaccine champions, multiple internal walkthroughs to validate checklists with the medical teams, and a tabletop exercise with key personnel culminated with the first COVID-19 vaccine being given this past Monday in the clinic.”

All DoD personnel will continue to wear appropriate masks, practice physical distancing, wash hands, follow restrictions of movement and adhere to host nation restrictions for the safety of communities, as a large portion of the population will need to be vaccinated before COVID-19 risks diminish.

For more information about the vaccine please refer to: https://www.501csw.usafe.af.mil/COVID-19-Information/Vaccine-Information/