MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan --
U.S. Air Force Col. Jesse J. Friedel, Misawa Air Base commander, U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Joey R. Meininger, Misawa AB command chief, Col. Melissa J. Dooley, 35th Medical Group commander, Lt. Col. Kevin Alford, 35th Operational Medicine Readiness Squadron commander, and mission essential personnel received the first doses of the COVID-19 Vaccine at Misawa AB, Dec. 28.
Through Operation Warp Speed, the Department of Defense began limited delivery of the COVID-19 vaccine to Medical Treatment Facilities and other health care facilities for voluntary vaccination to mission essential personnel at several Department of Defense (DoD) distribution sites throughout Japan and across the globe.
“Our military medical community worked diligently to ensure Team Misawa received and distributed initial doses of the COVID-19 vaccine expeditiously. In addition to administering vaccinations, we will continue COVID mitigation measures to protect the health and wellness of our on and off base community from this disease,” Friedel said. “Due to the limited supply, we are initially distributing the vaccine to our personnel in a tiered approach. Our local COVID-19 vaccine distribution and administration plan consists of a phased, standardized and coordinated strategy for prioritizing, distributing, and administering COVID-19 vaccines to protect our people, maintain readiness, and support the DoD COVID-19 response.”
In accordance with DoD guidance, Misawa AB is prioritizing initial distribution to mission essential personnel, such as medical care providers, first responders, and personnel responsible for maintaining essential national security and installation functions.
As manufacturing rates, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) allocation, and DoD process validation permits, the DoD will increase distribution and administration to DoD facilities across the globe. The process is currently expected to take several months. Full-scale, unrestricted vaccine availability to DoD personnel, similar to the annual influenza vaccine program, is predicted to be accomplished before or by mid-2021.
“The 35th Medical Group is dedicated to ensure the vaccine is delivered to base personnel as quickly as possible in a safe and effective way,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Kevin Alford, 35th Operational Medicine Readiness Squadron commander. “Vaccines for COVID-19 are now available because they were demonstrated to be safe and effective in large phase-three clinical trials, have been authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and have been manufactured and distributed safely and securely.”
Personnel authorized to voluntarily receive the vaccine have or will be notified by their chain of command, and should report to the medical group immediately for voluntary administration of the vaccine. The 35th MDG Public Health office will notify the base population when the vaccine is available for distribution to additional service members, government civilians, dependents and DoD beneficiaries at Misawa AB.