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COVID-19 vaccines arrive

COVID-19 vaccines arrive

Tech. Sgt. Frank Dallafior, a 96th Medical Group medical technician, administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Lt. Col. Stacey Coleman, 96th MDG nurse, Dec. 23 at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo/Ilka Cole)

COVID-19 vaccines arrive

Maj. David Pitts, 96th Medical Group nurse, reviews a vaccination form in the immunization clinic Dec. 23 at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo/Ilka Cole)

COVID-19 vaccines arrive

Maj. Alice Shepard, a 96th Medical Group pediatric nurse practitioner, looks on as Maj. David Pitts, a 96th MDG nurse, prepares to administer the COVID-19 vaccine Dec. 23 at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo/Ilka Cole)

COVID-19 vaccines arrive

Tech. Sgt. Frank Dallafior, a 96th Medical Group medical technician, reviews a COVID-19 vaccine label Dec. 23 at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The 96th MDG received the vaccine Dec. 22 and began issue it the following day. (U.S. Air Force photo/Ilka Cole)

COVID-19 vaccines arrive

Tech. Sgt. Marquette Palacio, a 96th Medical Group medical technician, administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Capt. Zachary Newcomer, a 96th MDG physician Dec. 23 at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo/Ilka Cole)

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --

In the midst of the holidays, 96th Medical Group frontline healthcare workers received the COVID-19 vaccine after the initial shipment arrived here Dec. 22.

The vaccination plan focused on personnel providing direct medical care, emergency services and public safety.  This is followed by those providing essential installation functions and deploying forces who volunteer for inoculation according to the DoD’s phased prioritization approach.

Personnel currently receiving the vaccine are healthcare workers, first responders, firefighters, security forces, and base personnel with the highest risk for exposure to COVID-19. The vaccine will also be offered to the deployment and essential installations function groups this week.

As each phase of the vaccination plan is complete, the plan will expand.

“The vaccination campaign is proceeding as planned,” said Col. Matthew Hanson, 96th MDG commander. “There is no firm date to begin vaccinating high risk groups at this time. We plan to update our community as more vaccine becomes available.”

The DoD vaccination efforts are data-driven and informed by the CDC. Vulnerable beneficiaries, including retirees, will be offered the vaccine according to the highest phase in which they qualify within DoD priorities and CDC guidance.

Hanson said updates will be provided to the community as more vaccines become available.

The next phase of the vaccine distribution will include high risk beneficiaries ages 65 years or older and those with pre-existing medical conditions.

Healthy service members and healthy beneficiaries will receive the vaccine in the last phase.

The vaccine is offered on a voluntary basis under the Emergency Use Authorization. All DoD personnel are encouraged to take the vaccine to protect their health, their families and their communities and to lower the public health risks associated with COVID-19.

Even though vaccines are available, personnel will still need to wear masks and practice physical and social distance to protect our safety until the risk of the coronavirus is substantially reduced.