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DOD Teams Administer 50K Vaccines a Day, 500,000 in Less Than a Month

March 11, 2021 | BY Jim Garamone , DOD News

DOD vaccination teams are doing their part to protect Americans, reaching the milestone of getting 500,000 shots in arms in under a month, Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby said today.

The first vaccination team deployed to Los Angeles last month. The team soon hit its stride and were quickly inoculating 6,000 people per day. More teams — large and small — deployed since then with two more — in Chicago and Greensboro, North Carolina — beginning full operation today.

Two soldiers speak with Californians getting a vaccine in a drive-up facility.
Vaccination Site
U.S. Army Soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo., vaccinate community members at the California State University Los Angeles Community Vaccination Center, Feb. 22, 2021. U.S. Northern Command, through U.S. Army North, remains committed to providing continued, flexible Department of Defense support to the Federal Emergency Management Agency as part of the whole-of-government response to COVID-19.
Photo By: Army Pfc. Garrison Waites
VIRIN: 210222-A-QE881-0053M

Yesterday, DOD personnel tallied 50,000 vaccinations given at the 17 DOD-supported sites.

These numbers will grow. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III authorized a total of 17 teams of active duty personnel to deploy in support of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. "We don't want to go faster than FEMA and local communities can support," Kirby said. "So, the idea of authorizing the teams in advance is to make sure that they're prepared, they're trained, they are ready to go." 

This also ensures that their commands can handle their departure. The military medical facilities they work at still have patients, and the bases need to be certain the medical facilities can continue the mission.

Four soldiers wearing face masks and gloves prepare syringes for COVID-19 vaccines.
Getting Prepared
Army 2nd Lt. Martin Gore, a surgical medical nurse with Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, Md., works alongside other Army Medical Command officers and Federal Emergency Management Agency volunteer medical staff to prepare COVID-19 vaccines at the Fair Park COVID-19 Community Vaccination Center in Dallas, March 2, 2021. Army MEDCOM soldiers deployed to Dallas early February 2021 to provide support to FEMA COVID-19 vaccination administration locations. U.S. Northern Command, through U.S. Army North, remains committed to providing continued, flexible Defense Department support to FEMA as part of the whole-of-government response to COVID-19.
Photo By: Army Spc. Alvin Conley
VIRIN: 020321-A-QT274-116

"I couldn't predict what the number of teams on the ground is going to be next week or the week after," the press secretary said. "We can only go, and should only go, as fast as FEMA and local communities will allow us."

Given this, Kirby would not try to guess how many Americans the teams will vaccinate in the next month. "The secretary has been very clear that we're going to lean in on this," he said. "And we're going to do as much as we can to support these FEMA-led efforts around the country to get vaccines in arms."