MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. – The 341st Medical Group welcomed the first round of COVID-19 vaccines to base yesterday and the MDG team is the first in line.
“We’re glad to begin taking this next step forward in our ongoing pandemic effort,” said Col. Mark Pomerinke, 341st Medical Group commander. “Our team has done an outstanding job this past year of providing for the needs of our military members, their families and the local retiree population. We had been preparing for the vaccine’s arrival, and now that it’s here we are excited to begin distribution.”
The Air Force began administering the COVID-19 vaccines earlier this month to essential personnel. The vaccine is a two-part regimen with a booster shot given about a month after the first dose.
Phase 1 of the distribution plan targets healthcare workers, healthcare support, emergency services, public safety personnel and other essential workers since they have the greatest exposure risk.
The next phase of the vaccine distribution plan includes other critical and essential support personnel and those preparing to deploy overseas. The last phases are high-risk beneficiaries and then the healthy population.
As of now, the vaccine is voluntary, with a focus on those unable to telework or working closely with others. According to Lt. Gen. Ronald Place, head of the Defense Health Agency, once the FDA has fully approved the vaccine, the department will consider making it mandatory.
Although experts don’t know the exact percentage of vaccinated people needed to achieve herd immunity since it varies by disease, Place recommends that everyone take the vaccine, just based on risk.
The World Health Organization says that herd immunity works because when the majority of the community are vaccinated the disease can’t circulate. In other words, “the more that others are vaccinated, the less likely people who are unable to be protected by vaccines are at risk of even being exposed to the harmful pathogens.”
“The nuclear mission is the cornerstone of our national security, and taking care of those who take care of us is the best way to continue to ensure the readiness of our force right now,” said Col. Anita A. Feugate Opperman, 341st Missile Wing commander.