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COVID-19 Vaccine Information

The Department of Defense is conducting a coordinated vaccine distribution strategy for prioritizing, and administering COVID-19 vaccines that will strengthen our ability to protect our people, maintain readiness, support the national COVID-19 response, and trust in safe and effective vaccines and vaccination plan.

The allocation and distribution of the vaccine is based on prioritization and includes those providing direct medical care, maintaining essential national security and installation functions, and beneficiaries at the highest risk for developing severe illness from COVID-19.

Current Situation

At this time, a date for delivery and distribution of the vaccine to the 501st Combat Support Wing has not been scheduled.

The medical groups and supporting agencies have established a localized and tiered distribution plan and is prepared for the safe and rapid distribution of the vaccine. The health of our force, our military and civilian employees, families and communities is a top priority. We appreciate the flexibility and patience of the community as we work within this dynamic environment. As always, you should continue to practice COVID-19 safety procedures. We will continue to keep you informed as the status changes.

We encourage all Pathfinders to be educated and informed on the vaccine. See the fact sheet developed by the CDC on the COVID vaccine.

Questions & Answers

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The risk for severe illness and death from COVID-19 increases with age, with the greatest risk among those aged 85 or older. Adults of any age with the following conditions are also at increased risk of severe illness: Cancer; chronic kidney disease, COPD; heart disease; weakened immune system; obesity; pregnancy; sickle cell disease; smoking; and type 2 diabetes mellitus. COVID-19 is a new disease. Currently there are limited data and information about the impact of many underlying medical conditions and whether they increase risk. Talk with your provider about your individual risk factors and appropriate precautions.

DoD is confident in the stringent regulatory process and requirements of the FDA. Manufacturers are required to submit their raw data for the FDA to review. Safety, immune response, and efficacy data from the trial stages are submitted to the FDA before they are authorized for use and distribution. Per FDA requirements, DoD will be monitoring and tracking vaccine reports of vaccine side effects through various surveillance activities both internal and external to the DoD.

Because the duration of immunity from natural infection with COVID-19 is unknown, vaccine may have value in protecting people who have already had the disease. Early evidence suggests natural immunity from COVID-19 may not last very long, but more studies are needed to better understand this. Talk with your provider if you have been previously infected with COVID-19.

Drugs and vaccines have to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ensure that only safe and effective products are available to the American public. During public health emergencies, when there is good scientific reason to believe that a product is safe and is likely to treat or prevent disease, the FDA may authorize its use through an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA), even if definitive proof of the effectiveness of the drug or vaccine is not known. FDA pre-licensure approval is considered for treatment or prevention of diseases that are very serious.

Each potential recipient of COVID-19 vaccine will receive a vaccine-specific Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) Fact Sheet for Recipients from the FDA, which will provide the following information:

• Who should and should not receive the vaccine

• That recipients have the choice to receive the vaccine

• Dosage and vaccine series information

• Risks and benefits of the vaccine

• An explanation of what an EUA is and why it is issued

• Any approved available alternatives for preventing COVID-19

• Additional resources

• Basic information on COVID-19, symptoms, and what to discuss with a health care provider before vaccination

The DoD initially expects a limited quantity of COVID-19 vaccine before the end of 2020, and rolling delivery to MTFs and other health care facilities after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves the vaccine for use. When the vaccine becomes available, DoD will follow the CDC’s prioritization guidelines (framework) for distribution. Talk to your provider or local MTF for more details about when vaccine will become available.

The DoD will offer vaccine to civilian and contractor staff with direct patient care and to those who normally receive vaccine for occupational health purposes, as authorized in accordance with DoD regulation. This may include some of those working on installations or depots or arsenals, and we are continuing to refine these populations in preparation for the additional vaccination efforts following vaccination of healthcare workers.

Currently the vaccine will be offered on a voluntary basis only due to its FDA emergency use authorization. When formally licensed by the FDA, however, the DoD may require a vaccine for military personnel or personnel in specific fields, as is the case for the influenza vaccine, but that has not been determined yet at this time.

Yes. As the vaccine will only diminish the pandemic over time, our force health protection measures will continue. We will still need to wear cloth face covings and practice physical distancing to limit the spread of the virus. We will not have enough vaccine initially to vaccinate everyone who wants the vaccine and COVID-19 pandemic risks will continue.