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Wright-Patt commander gives COVID-19 update

The graphic lists COVID-19 vaccine eligibility categories based on the Department of Defense's established COVID-19 vaccine tier and phase levels.

The Department of Defense is using a standardized and coordinated strategy for prioritizing, distributing, and administering a COVID-19 vaccine through a phased approach to all Active Duty, Reserve, National Guard, as well as all mission-essential Department of Defense civilian employees and other personnel performing mission essential functions, including healthcare, emergency services personnel, and critical support.

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio --

Col. Patrick Miller, 88th Air Base Wing and installation commander, addressed the base Jan. 13 on Facebook Live concerning the latest COVID-19 situation update.

It was the first town hall of 2021 and included: Lt. Col. (Dr.) Michael Crowder, the 88th Medical Group’s Public Health emergency officer; Lt. Col. (Dr.) Thad Ocampo, 88 MDG’s Allergy and Immunizations Clinic chief; and Col. Christian Lyons, 88 MDG commander.

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base continues to stay in Health Protection Condition Bravo with an emphasis on maximizing teleworking.

The focus of this town hall was to discuss the vaccine, vaccination process, who can receive it, and vaccination safety and effectiveness.

“As we continue this battle against the coronavirus, we are seeing great progress here on the installation, specifically as we start to roll out our first round of COVID-19 vaccines,” Miller said.

COVID-19 in Ohio

“The counties surrounding WPAFB including Miami, Montgomery, Clark and Greene have all stabilized in terms of cases, symptoms and hospitalizations over the last three weeks,” Crowder said.

Although the area outside the base has experienced the spread of COVID-19, WPAFB still has a low transmission rate.

“Even though the vaccine is here, we still need to keep our guard up,” Crowder said. “We still need to maintain those core non-pharmacologic COVID-19 mitigation measures of making sure we wear our masks, making sure we practice physical distancing of 6 feet or greater and making sure we stay within our domicile household.”    

Phases of vaccination

Phase 1A: Health care providers and support staff, emergency services and public safety personnel

Phase 1B: Critical national capabilities, personnel deploying overseas and essential support personnel

Phase 2: High-risk beneficiaries

Phase 3: Healthy population

If you are unsure about which vaccination phase you fall under, talk to your mission commanders and health care providers to ensure you receive the vaccine at the right time. 

Vaccine administration

There are two different forms of the vaccine. One is manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech, and the other by Moderna. Wright-Patt currently has the Pfizer vaccine.

At this moment, the vaccine is not mandatory and authorized for emergency use only.

“Once your duty section identifies you as an eligible person for the vaccination based on the DOD schema, your unit will coordinate with you on an appointment time to receive the vaccine,” Ocampo said.

Upon arrival at your vaccination appointment, you will go through an initial screening process to ensure you are safe to receive the vaccine. After any last-minute questions or concerns, you will receive it and wait 15 minutes for observation of any negative reactions.

You will then get information about your follow-up appointment 21 days later to receive your second dose of the vaccine.

Effectiveness of vaccine

“Although development of these vaccines were expedited through investment and partnerships by the U.S. government, it is important to know that no shortcuts were taken with regard to vaccine safety and scientific integrity,” Ocampo said. “Almost 70,000 study participants were included in both clinical trials of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, and both studies reported 94 and 95 percent vaccine effectiveness.”

If you are hesitant or have further questions or concerns about the vaccine, speak with your health care providers or people you know who received the vaccine.

“We encourage each of you to look at reputable sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” Lyons said. “Talk with knowledgeable and experienced medical staff members to answer any potential questions you may have about the vaccine.”

Those who have spoken to people they trust regarding personal vaccine experiences have shifted their anxieties and hesitancy about it, he added. The vaccine is not only a method to protect yourself and loved ones, but also a weapon in this COVID-19 battle.

 “We also need you to protect each other by staying socially connected,” Miller said. “Physically distancing does not mean social disconnection. We need each other to lean on.”

Stay current on updates

Follow the Wright-Patt AFB Facebook page @wpafb to stay up to date with current information on the base and medical center.

To watch the Jan. 13 Facebook town hall, visit www.facebook.com/WPAFB/videos/255706882639230.

If you have follow-up questions or concerns, email 88abw.pa@us.af.mil or call 937-522-3252.