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WPAFB announces plan for mandatory vaccinations

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Allison Turner, section chief for the 88th Medical Group allergy and immunizations clinic, loads a syringe with the COVID-19 vaccine inside the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, club, Feb. 1, 2021. Wright-Patt is currently continuing the Department of Defense’s three-phased approach to prioritize health care providers, support staff, emergency services and public safety personnel. (U.S. Air Force photo by Wesley Farnsworth)

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Allison Turner, section chief for the 88th Medical Group allergy and immunizations clinic, loads a syringe with the COVID-19 vaccine inside the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, club, Feb. 1, 2021. Wright-Patt is currently continuing the Department of Defense’s three-phased approach to prioritize health care providers, support staff, emergency services and public safety personnel. (U.S. Air Force photo by Wesley Farnsworth)

All active-duty Airmen and Guardians will need to be fully vaccinated no later than Nov. 2.

Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall directed the COVID-19 vaccine implementation guidelines in a Sept. 3 memorandum.

The Air Force’s plan requires Airmen and Guardians to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by the following dates, unless seeking an exemption or religious accommodation:

• Nov. 2 – active-duty personnel

• Dec. 2 – Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve personnel

At Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, officials said efforts are underway to ensure every deadline is met in accordance with Department of Defense and Air Force guidance.

Vaccinations will help ensure force-health protection and safety while preserving readiness and the ability to execute worldwide Air and Space Force missions, leaders said.

“We are taking an aggressive approach to protect our service members, their families and their communities from COVID-19 and the highly transmissible Delta variant,” said Undersecretary of the Air Force Gina Ortiz Jones. “As members of the nation’s armed forces, our Airmen and Guardians must be able to respond to situations around the globe — being fully vaccinated will help us safely meet the readiness requirements that our national security depends on.”

Mandatory vaccination through a military provider will initially only include the Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (widely referred to as “Comirnaty”), which is currently the only one approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Airmen and Guardians may continue to volunteer for COVID-19 vaccines approved under emergency-use authorization, including Moderna, Janssen and AstraZeneca, from both military and civilian providers.

Service members are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after the second dose in a two-shot series or two weeks after receiving a one-dose vaccine

The currently approved vaccine for mandatory issue is “Comirnaty,” a two-dose series. Therefore, to meet the Nov. 2 deadline, the first dose must be administered no later than Sept. 28 and the second shot is required by Oct. 19. Three weeks are needed between doses.

“As we roll into mandatory vaccinations for military personnel, we have no concerns with on-hand supply,” said Col. Patrick Miller, 88th Air Base Wing and installation commander. “Expect the mandatory pods to start the week of Sept. 13 in the Medical Center auditorium. The plan is to rotate personnel through the pod by unit. 

“If you are an unvaccinated military member, your unit will advise you of the date and time to report for your first dose, unless you choose to get it earlier.”

Walk-in services for active-duty vaccinations began Sept. 8 in Wright-Patterson Medical Center’s auditorium.

If a service member received their COVID vaccination off base and has not reported it yet, he or she should provide a copy of their vaccination card to the Allergy & Immunizations Clinic or upload the image — front and back — in a secure message to their primary care provider team via the TRICARE online portal. 

All other TRICARE-eligible beneficiaries ages 12 and up, as well as DOD civilians and contractors, should continue to schedule an appointment by calling 937-257-SHOT (7468) or visiting https://informatics-stage.health.mil/WPAFBCOVIDApp/

Any updates will be posted to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base’s COVID information page at www.wpafb.af.mil/coronavirus/.

If people have questions, the 88th Medical Group’s vaccination town hall is available at www.dvidshub.net/video/811488/88-mdg-vaccine-town-hall. They can also call 937-257-SHOT or contact a primary care manager

“Our team is here to support you throughout this entire process, from safely administering your vaccination to navigating the medical exemption or religious accommodation processes,” Miller said. “We also have a number of services available to help process the wide range of emotions you may be experiencing as we shift from voluntary to mandatory vaccinations.

“Our goal is to execute this order as effectively and efficiently as possible with an emphasis on you.”