Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

Frontline health care workers among first in DOD for COVID-19 vaccine

Image of a man getting a vaccine. Click to open a larger version of the image. Click to open a larger version of the image. Army Capt. (Dr.) Isaiah Horton, an internal medicine provider at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, receives a COVID-19 vaccination, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland, Dec. 14, 2020. (Photo by Lisa Ferdinando, DOD.)

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine

U.S. military communities in Washington, D.C., San Diego, and San Antonio are among the first in the Department of Defense to receive the COVID-19 vaccine Dec. 14 as part of the DOD’s initial distribution plan.

Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) in Bethesda, Maryland, started vaccinating select medical staff for COVID-19 Monday, with acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller on hand to witness the initial shots and receive one himself.

"This is a very important day, not just for the Department of Defense, but for our nation," Miller said before getting his vaccination.

Seven months after President Donald Trump announced Operation Warp Speed and the goal to deliver a vaccine by January 2021, "today ... the very first Americans are being inoculated by a safe and highly effective vaccine," Miller said.

"Our service members, DOD civilians, and their families have demonstrated remarkable endurance and sacrifice throughout the pandemic," he added. "We know that our collective sacrifice would accelerate the path to a cure and save lives."

Miller said that because of the DOD's precision logistics, "the first shipments of vaccines are arriving securely at hundreds of distribution sites around the country as we speak," he added.

In addition to WRNMMC, Naval Medical Center San Diego in California and the Air Force's 59th Medical Wing in San Antonio, Texas, also received their first shipment Monday and expect to begin vaccinations Tuesday.

These are the first of an initial 16 DOD sites to receive authorized COVID-19 vaccines as part of the DOD’s phased approach to distribute and administer COVID-19 vaccines.

Last week, the Pentagon outlined the DOD's plan to vaccinate its population of approximately 11.1 million. 

“Our goal is to be transparent with the force about what is happening and to encourage our personnel to use the vaccine,” said Pentagon Spokesman Jonathan Hoffman during a DOD press briefing last week with Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Thomas McCaffery and Army Lt. Gen. Ronald Place, Defense Health Agency director.

McCaffery and Place said the phased, standardized, and coordinated strategy for prioritizing, distributing, and administering COVID-19 vaccines was developed in collaboration with Operation Warp Speed, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the DOD’s COVID Task Force assessment of unique mission requirements.

It “will provide the COVID vaccine to DOD uniformed service members, both active and selective reserve components, including members of the National Guard, dependents, retirees, civilian employees, and select DOD contract personnel as authorized in accordance with DOD policy,” added McCaffery.

Man getting vaccine in arm
Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller receives a COVID-19 vaccine from Navy Hospitalman Samantha Alvarez, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland, Dec. 14, 2020. (Photo by Lisa Ferdinando, DOD.)

Priority populations and selected locations

Based on the limited initial availability, DOD is slated to receive an allotment of just under 44,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine for this first week, which will be distributed in proportion to population size of selected sites. The Pfizer vaccine was approved for emergency use authorization Dec. 11 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The DOD locations were selected because they meet several unique criteria that best support the initial distribution and administration plan, according to McCaffery. For example, all 16 locations meet the unique supply-chain requirements for initial vaccines, such as the capability for ultra-cold storage.

Additionally, all sites serve a sizable DOD population with priority personnel across all military services who will receive the vaccine before other members of the healthy DOD population — including health care providers and support personnel, residents and staff of DOD long-term care facilities, other essential workers such as emergency responders and security personnel, and high-risk beneficiaries. And they all have sufficient medical personnel to administer the vaccines and monitor recipients.

The DOD sites selected for initial distribution to priority populations, including locations they will distribute to, are:

  • Darnall Army Medical Center, Fort Hood, Texas 
  • Wilford Hall, Ambulatory Surgical Center, Joint Base San Antonio, Texas 
    • Brooke Army Medical Center, Texas (distribution from Wilford Hall)
  • Madigan Army Medical Center, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington  
  • Womack Army Medical Center, Fort Bragg, North Carolina 
  • Navy Branch Health Clinic, Naval Air Station, Jacksonville, Florida 
  • Base Alameda Health Services (clinic), U.S. Coast Guard Base, Alameda, California 
  • Naval Medical Center, San Diego, California
    • Naval Hospital, Camp Pendleton, California (distribution from San Diego)
  • Naval Hospital Pensacola, Pensacola, Florida 
    • Keesler Air Force Base, Florida (distribution from Pensacola)
    • Armed Forces Retirement Home, Gulfport, Mississippi (Keesler AFB will administer) (distribution from Keesler)
  • Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland 
    • Armed Forces Retirement Home, Washington, DC (distribution from Walter Reed)
  • Portsmouth Naval Medical Center, Portsmouth, Virginia 
    • U.S. Coast Guard Base Clinic, Portsmouth, Virginia (distribution from Portsmouth Naval Medical Center)
  • Indiana National Guard, Franklin, Indiana 
  • New York National Guard Medical Command, Watervliet, New York 
  • Tripler Army Medical Center, Honolulu, Hawaii
  • Allgood Army Community Hospital, Camp Humphreys, Korea 
  • Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany 
  • Kadena Medical Facility, Kadena Air Base, Japan 

Vaccine safety

Even though the vaccine cannot be mandated under the terms of the emergency use authorization, the department is strongly encouraging everyone to get it to “protect yourselves, your families, your shipmates, your wingmen, your battle buddies, and your communities,” said Place. “The preliminary data on the safety and effectiveness of the two vaccine candidates is highly encouraging.”

As with most vaccines, Place explained, there is a chance some recipients will experience slight adverse effects, such as arm soreness, fatigue, and fever.

“The department will be fully transparent about any adverse effects that are reported and share this information with the CDC,” said the DHA director. However, as a physician, he advised everyone to get the vaccine. “The risk of these vaccines, from what we know, is much less than the risk of the actual disease process.”

Vaccines are only available after they are demonstrated to be safe and effective in phase 3 clinical trials, have been authorized by FDA, and have been manufactured and distributed safely and securely. Additionally, the DOD has decades of experience with conducting global vaccine programs — whether it’s annual flu campaigns or protection against novel diseases around the world.

“We vaccinate millions of our service members and families and retirees of every age every year, and we have systems in place to monitor the health of everyone who receives a vaccine,” Place said.

Mitigation during phased distribution

As a result of the gradual approach, DOD will continue to distribute vaccines in a phased format, “adding additional prioritized personnel and additional prioritized locations until allocations of the vaccine reach 60 percent of our DOD, roughly 11.1 million personnel," explained McCaffery.

Once the 60 percent threshold is reached, DOD anticipates vaccine manufacturing rates to support full-scale, unrestricted vaccine distribution to department personnel. At that point, DOD intends to distribute the vaccine in the same way it conducts its annual flu vaccine program.

“I’m extremely confident the department’s plan … provides a very clear roadmap to protect our entire DOD population across the globe against the pandemic,” said McCaffery. “This has been a tough year for all Americans, and I’m inspired by the perseverance and commitment of the men and women of the department and the Military Health System. Together we’re working as a team to protect all entrusted to our care.”

DOD health officials stressed the need to continue wearing appropriate face coverings, practice physical distancing, wash hands, and following local and installation force health protection guidelines until a large portion of the DOD population is vaccinated. 

You also may be interested in...

Future of Nursing: Telehealth, More Innovation and Maybe Some Robots

Article
5/13/2022
Second Lt. Nina Hoskins, 81st Surgical Operations Squadron operating room nurse, briefs Col. Debra Lovette, 81st Training Wing commander, and other base leadership on robotics surgery capabilities inside the robotics surgery clinic at the Keesler Medical Center June 16, 2017. (Photo: Kemberly Groue, U.S. Air Force)

The future of nursing is here due in part to changes brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recommended Content:

Nursing in the Military Health System | Coronavirus

How One Military Nurse Persevered Through the COVID-19 Response

Article
5/5/2022
Air Force Capt. Courtney Ebeling, a medical-surgical nurse at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Family Health Clinic, Texas, was deployed to support the COVID-19 response in Afghanistan in 2021. They administered vaccinations to U.S. citizens, service members, and foreign military members as well as supported the preparation to withdraw from the country. (Photo: Courtesy of Air Force Capt. Courtney Ebeling)

Nurses across the Military Health System have played a vital role in providing routine patient care and meeting the needs of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recommended Content:

Nurses Week Toolkit: United In Service, Rooted in Strength | Coronavirus | Nursing in the Military Health System

‘I Love the Intensity’ – One Nurse Recalls Three COVID-19 Deployments

Article
5/5/2022
In 2020, Air Force 1st Lt. Tiffany Parra, an ICU nurse at the 633rd Medical Group, on Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, was deployed to a North Dakota hospital to support a FEMA COVID-19 mission. In the photo, she trains on equipment used for critical patients in a North Dakota ICU. (Photo: Courtesy of Air Force 1st Lt. Tiffany Parra)

Nurses are unique, they follow a calling to care for others. Military nurses do that as well as serve their nation. For Nurses Week, the MHS highlights some of their own.

Recommended Content:

Nurses Week Toolkit: United In Service, Rooted in Strength | Nursing in the Military Health System | Coronavirus

Pandemic Spotlights the Vital Role of Military Lab Workers

Article
5/2/2022
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Ashley Solomon, 18th Medical Support Squadron NCO in charge of microbiology, unloads blood samples from a centrifuge at Kadena Air Base, Japan, Jan. 31, 2019. (Photo: Tech. Sgt. Matthew B. Fredericks, U.S. Air Force)

MHS clinical labs produce results.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus

Helping Your Child to Cope with Grief and Losses Related to COVID-19

Article
4/28/2022
Shirley Lanham Elementary School students perform Taiko drumming during a Month of the Military Child celebration aboard the Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan, April 6, 2022. (Photo: Petty Officer 2nd Class Ange-Olivier Clement, Naval Air Facility Atsugi)

Many military children have lost loved ones to COVID-19. How parents can help with the grief.

Recommended Content:

Month of the Military Child - Celebrating Military Kids | Children's Health | Psychological Fitness | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus

How to Help Military Children Reconnect After Two Years of the Pandemic

Article
4/25/2022
Airman 1st Class Rocio Romo, Space Launch Delta 30 public affairs specialist, and her son pose for a photo at Cocheo Park on Vandenberg Space Force Base, California, March 25, 2022. During the month of April, we celebrate Month of the Military Child to highlight the sacrifices military children make on the home front while their parents serve the United States. (Photo: Airman Kadielle Shaw, Space Launch Delta 30 Public Affairs)

How parents can help children stressed by more than two years of COVID-19.

Recommended Content:

Month of the Military Child - Celebrating Military Kids | Children's Health | Psychological Fitness | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus

COVID-19 Testing and Treatment Graphic 2

Infographic
4/21/2022
COVID-19 Testing and Treatment Graphic 2

If your military hospital or clinic offers these antiviral treatments as part of the COVID-19 Test to Treat Initiative, use these graphics to promote your services to your beneficiaries.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | COVID-19 Treatment

COVID-19 Testing and Treatment Main Graphic

Infographic
4/21/2022
COVID-19 Testing and Treatment Main Graphic

If your military hospital or clinic offers these antiviral treatments as part of the COVID-19 Test to Treat Initiative, use these graphics to promote your services to your beneficiaries.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | COVID-19 Treatment

COVID-19 Booster Effectiveness Remained High During Omicron Surge

Article
4/18/2022
Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Mary Ashcraft, assigned to the combat ship USS Tulsa, administers a COVID-19 vaccine booster to Aviation Machinist Mate 1st Class Anthony Johnson Jan. 10, 2022, at Apra Harbor, Guam. (Photo: Mass Communication Specialist Petty Officer 1st Class Devin M. Langer, Command Destroyer Squadron 7)

Two new studies of active-duty service members show COVID-19 booster vaccines are effective, but uptake rates in the military community lagged behind the civilian population.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Got Your 6 | April 16, 2022

Video
4/15/2022
Got Your 6 | April 16, 2022

‘Got Your 6’ is TRICARE’s COVID vaccine video series that delivers important information and updates, on days that end in ‘6.’ It includes the latest information about DOD vaccine distribution, the TRICARE health benefit, and vaccine availability. Got a question about ‘Got Your 6’? Send an email to dha.ncr.comm.mbx.dha-internal-communications@mail.mil Find your local military provider at tricare.mil/MTF, or go to tricare.mil/vaccineappointments and schedule yours today!

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

8 Tips to Help Kids Adjust to Change during the New Pandemic Phase

Article
4/15/2022
A parent comforts his child while she receives a pediatric dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at Kadena Air Base, Japan, Jan. 28, 2022. (Photo: Airman 1st Class Anna Nolte, 18th Wing Public Affairs)

Parents should prepare their kids for the new normal of the ongoing pandemic, recognizing that the status of the disease can change quickly as new variants of COVID-19 emerge.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus | Children's Health

Military Medical Officials Back FY 23 Budget Before Senate Appropriations Committee

Article
4/6/2022
Marines with Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing take precautionary measures by cleaning and disinfecting their hands during field day on Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., March 20, 2020, to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 while continuing to perform mission-essential tasks. (Photo: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jaime Reyes)

Military Medical officials, including Army Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Ronald J. Place, Defense Health Agency director, back FY 23 Budget before the Senate Appropriations Committee, March 29, 2022.

Recommended Content:

Public Health | Coronavirus

How COVID-19 Made the Military Medical Community Stronger

Article
3/21/2022
Image of a service member being treated

Lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic has made the military medical community stronger and will help when confronting the next crisis, whether that’s another pandemic, a new conflict or natural disaster

Recommended Content:

Combat Support | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus

COVID-19 Responses Underscore Importance of Patient Safety

Article
3/14/2022
Every day, patient safety is one of the top priorities for the Defense Health Agency. Patient safety means providing ready, reliable care to service members, veterans, and dependents no matter the circumstances. (Photo: Defense Health Agency)

Patient safety is a topmost concern of MHS, and Patient Safety Awareness Week 2022 focuses on Ready, Reliable Care.

Recommended Content:

Patient Safety | Patient Safety Awareness Week | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus | Patient Safety Awareness Week

Answering Your Questions About COVID-19 Testing

Article
2/25/2022
Military personnel performing a COVID-19 Test

COVID-19 continues to spread, now as the Omicron variant. Getting vaccinated is the most effective way to protect you and your family from getting seriously ill, getting hospitalized, or dying. You should also make sure you’re up to date with your vaccines. Testing is another important step you can take to protect yourself and others.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus | At-Home COVID-19 Tests
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 41

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.