FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. --
Team Fairchild hosted a virtual town hall January 11 to address questions and concerns regarding the arrival and distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine at 92nd Medical Group.
Below are some question and answers addressed by subject matter experts from the 92nd MDG pertaining to the vaccine:
Q: What will be the timeline for each phase?
A: The prioritization of the distribution follows that of the CDC. That order is broken up into several tiers. Those tiers being (in order of distribution):
- Emergency/first responders such as the ambulance techs, security forces, fire department, etc.
- All health care professionals (including childcare workers)
- Essential personnel and those selected to deploy
- High risk beneficiaries (65+ or those with prior conditions)
- Healthy population
Q: Because there are two doses, is there any effort to fast track deployers approaching 21 days from departure for their first dose?
A: The speed of getting the vaccine is a priority. There have been efforts to compress and overlap parts of the clinical trials process to get this vaccine out faster and get things back to normal.
Q: If initial shipments of the vaccine are not distributed to everyone in a top tier group, will they go to lower tier groups?
A: Yes absolutely. This is a voluntary vaccine, and as individuals opt in/out, there will likely be a flow over. As that happens, we will move down the prioritization list, and those in the lower tier groups will be given the opportunity to receive the vaccine.
Q: Will dependents be able to receive the vaccine?
A: Absolutely. Anyone with access to the base will be eligible to receive the vaccine. Their timeline of receiving it will be dependent on their Tier status on the schema. Healthcare workers and first responders (including civilian counterparts) will have priority. Most dependents and beneficiaries will fall into Phase 2 or 3.
Q: If a dependent is high risk for severe effects from COVID, what steps do we need to follow to get them a vaccine?
A: We have a disease manager at the MDG who keeps track of individuals that are at high risk, whether they are older, or have pre-existing medical conditions. As we make it through the tiers, we will be reaching out to those individuals to let them know as soon as the vaccine is available to them.
Q: How will the base keep track of who gets the vaccine?
A: We will be documenting vaccination administration in both our Electronic Healthcare Record and the Medical Readiness System (IMR). At time of vaccination, you will get a vaccination card stating you got the first dose. This is for personal records as well as providing proof of vaccination.
Q: What will be the process to distribute the vaccine on base? Will it be all at once?
A: There are logistical limitations to distributing the vaccine all at once. However, the MDG has a plan for a point of dispensing (or PODs) and processing centers.
Q: Should I get the COVID Vaccine if I have tested positive for COVID? If yes, how many days do I need to wait after my positive test?
A: Yes you should. Although the odds of re-contracting COVID-19 after being infected is very low the 90 days following infection, after those 90 days, transmission of the disease is possible. It is suggested that an individual receive the vaccine within that 90 day window following contraction of the disease in order to insure they don’t contract it again.
Q: Should children get the vaccine?
A: As of right now, the vaccine has not yet been cleared for young children under the age of 16. This is why it is all the more vital to get all adults vaccinated.
Q: Who will be the first to get the vaccines?
A: First responders, then healthcare professionals, then essential personnel and those to deploy, then at-risk individuals, then finally the healthy population
Q: Where do child care workers fall in the tiers?
A: The CDC will be rolled in with the healthcare professionals, which would be tier 2.
Q: Do we need to get the vaccine on base?
A: If Active Duty, it is preferred to get on base. If an individual is a beneficiary, it is recommended to get the vaccine wherever is as early as possible.
Q: When will the vaccine be available to base families?
A: The vaccines will be made available to base families in accordance with the tiers of distribution. When a dependent will be treated is dependent on where they fall in the tiers.
Type of Vaccine:
Q: Which vaccine will we be administering?
A: Fairchild AFB will be receiving the Pfizer vaccine. This was a joint effort with bio and tech. It is under an emergency use authorization by the FDA.
Q: Why is only one manufacturer’s vaccine available at my location?
A: Yes. For the time being.
Q: Will the Moderna become available over Pfizer?
A: The Moderna vaccine has less stringent storage requirements, so these vaccines will likely be used overseas and in more secluded locations that do not have the proper storage capacities that we at Fairchild are privileged with.
Q: If you get one dose of the Pfizer, can I get Moderna for the second one?
A: No. Once committed to a vaccine the second dose needs to be the same version.
Q: Is it true there is a mutated strain of the virus that isn’t covered by the vaccine?
A: Research shows these strains are also covered by the vaccine.
Q: Can someone get COVID-19 from the vaccine?
A: Because of the nature of this type of vaccine, being that it uses mRNA technology, it allows your body to fight the vaccine from the get-go rather than by building natural immunity by giving a small/dead dose of the actual vaccine. Because of the fact that no virus is actually present in the vaccine, there’s no way to get it from the vaccine. However, because the vaccine is a two-dose series, and considering the first dose does not guarantee full immunity, it is still possible for an individual could contract the disease after the first dose and between the two vaccinations.
Q: Should women who are breastfeeding/pregnant/trying to become pregnant receive the vaccine?
A: There have been multiple studies that show that if you contract COVID during pregnancy, you are at risk of having issues with the pregnancy such as potentially a pre-term birth, and other effects along those lines. Statements from The Society of Maternal Fetal Medicine and The American Academy of Pediatrics, both very well respected professional organizations within the medical industry composed of a diverse board of medical professionals, indicate that they all highly recommend getting the vaccine regardless of pregnancy or breastfeeding.
Q: Are there any known fertility issues?
A: Actually, very many people who were a part of the trial period actually became pregnant despite instruction not to. Therefore there is no evidence to show that the vaccine adversely affects fertility.
Q: What is the vaccine guidance for patients with food allergies?
A: If an individual has had a history of an immediate allergic reaction of severity to any previous dose of an mRNA COVID mRNA vaccine or components of the vaccine including glycol or polysorbate, it is not suggested that they receive the second dose of the vaccine, unless they are cleared by their allergist.
Q: Will TRICARE cover adverse side effects for those who receive the vaccine prior to it being mandatory? (Linck)
A: Based off of the several million given so far, not expecting severe side effects. However, TRICARE is committed to DoD members’ health should there be any side effects.
Q: What are the known symptoms?
A: Some of the symptoms include tenderness on the arm that received the vaccine. The second dose can cause fatigue. In some cases, there are reactions called anaphylaxis. Only 23 cases out of 2 million vaccines administered have resulted in this reaction, and every single one of those individuals made full recoveries.
Q: Will leadership look into reducing mask-wear policy for work centers that are 100% vaccinated?
A: Would be fantastic, but as of right now our mask wearing policies are dictated by the Department of Defense as well as our local and state rules. Unless we see a significant drop in the number of COVID-19 cases in the community, it is unlikely that the protective measures we taking will change. Especially since this is a two-shot series, after the first shot, nothing is going to change at all.
Q: If an individual gets both doses, do they need to wear a mask?
A: Until we see a significant drop in cases in the community, yes for now.
Q: How long does immunity from the vaccine last?
A: Considering the novelty of the vaccine, there is no guaranteed answer to this. However, based off of the extensive research that’s already been done through the many clinical trials, we’re seeing that the individuals who have already received the vaccine do show immunity to the virus. The data shows that immunity may last months or up to years.
Q: Will the vaccine become mandatory for deployments?
A: This can’t happen during the emergency use phase (which is what it’s in now).
Q: For healthy individuals, why are we doing this at all? Can’t we just wait for natural immunity?
A: According to statistics, about 15% of the population has had COVID. And with that, there have been 300,000 deaths. We would need at least 85% of the population to contract the disease in order to reach a societal natural immunity. If we waited, we could potentially risk the death of another 1.5 million deaths before we reach that minimum.
Team Fairchild and its medical team are dedicated to providing the Airmen, families and retirees of Fairchild with the highest quality of care, and are committed to their continuous support in combating the COVID-19 pandemic.