MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --
The 23d Medical Group administered the first round of COVID-19 vaccines Jan. 6.
The Department of Defense distributed the vaccine to several initial sites as part of Operation Warp Speed, the effort to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines administered to the American people.
The first Airman to receive the vaccine at Moody was Lt. Col. (Dr.) Travis Russell, 23d Wing public health emergency officer and 23d Operational Medical Readiness Squadron commander.
“When we can actually treat people or prevent the disease from happening, we don't need to deal with as high a level of testing,” Russell said. “We don't need to deal with as high a level of quarantine, isolation and all that paperwork that goes with that. The line-side and the medic-side life can get back to normal. That’s why I was really excited to get this vaccine today.”
For the foreseeable future, Moody will continue to administer the vaccine in accordance with the DOD’s distribution process, which prioritizes personnel providing direct medical care, maintaining essential installation functions, deploying, and those at the highest risk for COVID-19.
“We [have worked] with the base leadership to identify who on this base really must have this vaccine in the first push in order to protect our ability to wage war downstream and also take care of our local population,” Russell said. “[We start] tier one, which is basically healthcare providers and people who are at the highest risk.
“[Next] is national security individuals and deployers. [It’s] currently not required for deployment; however, they would like us to push this vaccine to the deployers as much as possible in order to protect them when they deploy, because they may be going to locations that [could] have COVID even at higher rates than we do locally.”
Although the vaccine is not mandatory, medical professionals encourage individuals to get vaccinated and are working to mitigate misinformation about the vaccine.
“The vaccine is safe,” Russell said. “A lot of people have been getting a lot of bad information about the COVID vaccine. There's a lot of good scientific data out there about this vaccine. The Moderna and Pfizer [vaccines have] been studied on more than 30,000 people already, and hundreds of thousands have already gotten vaccinated in the world.”
The voluntary vaccine comes in a series of two shots, both of which have a possibility of side effects.
“For the first vaccine, individuals [may experience] inflammation, pain, and swelling in the injection site,” Russell said. “Up to 20% of the people will get headaches. Fatigue is also common in the first two days of the immunization.
“With the booster, [the second round of the immunization,] you'll definitely have the local injection swelling and the local injection pain. We expect about 50% of those individuals to have a headache on day two and three. About 50 to 70% of those individuals will also feel fatigued on day two and three. About 20% of individuals will actually get a fever on day two and three with the second dose.”
For more information about COVID-19 and the vaccines, visit https://www.defense.gov/Explore/Spotlight/Coronavirus/fbclid/ or https://health.mil/Military-Health-Topics/Combat-Support/Public-Health/Coronavirus/COVID-19-Vaccine-Efforts
To hear Russell discuss the above, check out the videos here and here.