JANUARY 19, 2021 – Nearly one year after COVID-19 arrived in the U.S., the vaccine was approved for emergency use authorization on December 19.
The U.S. government commenced phase one of Operation Warp Speed following the vaccine’s arrival in January 2021.
According to the CDC, “Operation Warp Speed is a partnership among components of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the DoD to help develop, make, and distribute millions of vaccine doses for COVID-19 as quickly as possible while ensuring that the vaccines are safe and that they work.”
The operation will have three phases. Phase 1 focuses on administration planning, establishing policy and sending the limited doses to first responders and key personnel. Phase 2 will have three additional stages, and phase 3 will be universal availability of vaccines.
Phase 2a, will focus on limited distribution as the controlled pilot, and 2b will focus on expanded distribution, which transitions from a controlled geographic distribution process to a service-based distribution. Lastly, phase 2c is the saturation phase and begins once 60% of the DoD’s total 11.1 million personnel have been allocated a vaccine; this phase will resemble annual influenza vaccinations.
All DoD personnel will also be provided with vaccination-specific education materials and given the opportunity to ask questions to informed healthcare professionals. They and their beneficiaries have the freedom to receive or decline the vaccine released under the EUA.
“Ensuring our Marines and Sailors are disease free to the best of our ability allows for everyone to participate in training with minimal risk.” U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Cecily Dye, II MEF Information Group surgeon
While the vaccine is not mandated, and no adverse action will be taken toward any DoD personnel for declination, failure to take the vaccine poses reduction in readiness to the U.S. Navy’s and Marine Corps’ global operations tempo and ally-interoperability.
“When we travel for deployments or train with our allies it is important that we don’t put their forces at risk, and that we are respectful of what is going on within their country so we are able to work as a team,” said U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Cecily Dye, the Surgeon with II Marine Expeditionary Force Information Group. “Ensuring our Marines and Sailors are disease free to the best of our ability allows for everyone to participate in training with minimal risk.”
Dye also expressed that testing, quarantining and treating service members that come to the combined respiratory aid station are separated from symptomatic and asymptomatic to prevent the virus’ spread even further.
Furthermore, the medical personnel have proven to competently handle a large amount of service members for testing prior to a short-notice deployment.
“Once we are made aware of a short-notice deployment, we open the entire building and test all of the personnel with a II MIG augment quickly, and we have been able to do so within 24 hours’ notice,” said Dye.
Even with the vaccine, U.S. Navy medical personnel intend to keep testing service members by maintaining asymptomatic and symptomatic testing sites for members at separate locations. Service members are required to quarantine up to 14 days after their results come in.
II MIG are to keep wearing masks, practice social distancing and sanitary standards as recommended by medical professionals. It is stressed that these methods will remain necessary until a large proportion of the population is vaccinated and the vaccine is proven to provide long-term protection.
By Cpl. Stephen Campbell | II MEF Information Group