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Defense Leaders Provide COVID-19 Vaccination Update

April 21, 2021 | BY David Vergun , DOD News

As of this week, all Defense Department personnel and beneficiaries can get a COVID-19 vaccination appointment, Dr. Terry Adirim, acting assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, said today. 

A woman stands at a lectern.
Dr. Terry Adirim
Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Dr. Terry Adirim delivers remarks during a briefing on COVID-19 at the Pentagon, April 21, 2021.
Photo By: Lisa Ferdinando, DOD
VIRIN: 210421-D-BN624-2008

"We are encouraging everyone to get vaccinated because these vaccines are very effective and safe and are a critical part of us getting back to normal," Adirim said during a press briefing with Army Lt. Gen. Ronald J. Place, director of the Defense Health Agency.

Adirim said the decision to pause the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has had minimal impact on the department because only a small number of that vaccine were allocated to DOD.

A medic draws a vaccine from vial with a syringe.
Dose Duty
Army Pfc. Sara Jennings, a medic assigned to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany, prepares doses of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine, April 19, 2021.
Photo By: Russell Toof, Army
VIRIN: 210419-A-GJ885-002
A corpsman prepares vaccines.
Vaccine Prep
A Navy corpsman prepares his station before administering COVID-19 vaccines at Naval Support Activity in Washington, D.C., April 16, 2021.
Photo By: Elizabeth Kearns, Navy
VIRIN: 210416-N-SN884-1002

The science is not yet out on whether or not a follow-up booster will be needed for those who have already been vaccinated, she said. The department will follow any new guidance on that from the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Place said the vaccine is being administered as fast as it's received. As of yesterday afternoon, we have administered over 2.62 million doses to those eligible within the department and at least another 440,000 doses have been administered to beneficiaries in the Tricare pharmacy and provider network."

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Regarding those DOD personnel and family members stationed overseas, Place said that by June 1, 80% of that population should be able to receive a first dose.

The department is closely monitoring the FDA's review of the Pfizer vaccine for adolescents age 12 to 15, he noted. "We're already developing plans to deliver this vaccine to our family member population — both overseas and in the United States — should it be approved for use in this age group."

A woman gives an injection to a man.
Vaccine Distribution
Air Force Senior Airman Brianne Canada inoculates a soldier with the Georgia Army National Guard with the vaccine against COVID-19 at Clay National Guard Center in Marietta, Ga., April 20, 2021.
Photo By: Army Capt. Bryant Wine, Georgia Army National Guard
VIRIN: 210420-Z-VK811-0003
Army Capt. Bryant Wine, Georgia Army National Guard
COVID-19 Vaccines
A medical tray contains syringes with the COVID-19 vaccine ready to be given to Georgia National Guard soldiers, airmen and civilian employees at Clay National Guard Center in Marietta, Ga., April 20, 2021.
Photo By: Army Capt. Bryant Wine, Georgia Army National Guard
VIRIN: 210420-Z-VK811-0001C

Place added: "We continue to see vaccine uptake rates increased with each passing week. We're thankful for those who have taken this step, protecting themselves, their teammates, their families and those most vulnerable. I truly expect this trend to continue."