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Weed ACH moves one step closer to phase 2 of COVID vaccine plan

Image of soldier getting a vaccine in her left arm. Army Spc. Arielle Castro, a preventive medicine specialist with Weed Army Community Hospital receives the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine January 12. The Leominster, Massachusetts native said she chose to get the vaccine to protect her family. (Photo by Kimberly Hackbarth, Weed Army Community Hospital.)

The Weed Army Community Hospital at Ft. Irwin, California continues to vaccinate service members and civilians, and has begun giving the second round of doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

The start of the second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine brings Fort Irwin and the National Training Center one step closer to phase 2 of the population schema, which, according to the Department of Defense, is when healthy uniform personnel and TRICARE beneficiaries who did not meet the criteria for phase 1 can start to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

More and more individuals eligible under phase 1 continue to opt in to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, including those who previously had the disease.

Staff at Weed ACH diagnosed Army Sgt. Traevion Williams, a patient administration department clerk with Weed ACH, with COVID-19 in July 2020.

The San Bernardino, California, native said he first lost his sense of taste and smell, followed by a high fever and excruciating body aches from COVID-19, which played a part in his decision to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

“I didn’t want to have to deal with [those symptoms] again if I didn’t have to,” he said. “If taking the vaccine was going to limit the chance of feeling like that again, I would rather just take the vaccine.”

He also chose to get the COVID-19 vaccine because of his family, he said.

“My mom is a registered nurse, and she [got the COVID-19 vaccine], so that gave me more comfort to take it knowing she’s willingly taking the vaccine,” Williams said.

Army Spc. Arielle Castro, a preventive medicine specialist with Weed ACH, explained that she originally did not want to receive the vaccine, but changed her mind because of her family and her mother’s health.

“If I want to go back home and see my mother … I feel like everybody would feel better if I got [the COVID-19 vaccine],” said the Leominster, Massachusetts, native. “I wouldn’t mind enduring the two days after getting the vaccine with the side effects in order to be able to go home.”

Side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine differ from person to person, with the most common side effect experienced by those who have received the vaccine on Fort Irwin being arm soreness at the site of the injection.

Williams received his first of the two-dose sequence of the COVID-19 vaccine December 23 with the first wave of phase 1-eligible personnel and added that he experienced arm soreness and a minor headache.

Castro detailed how she experienced symptoms including fever, body aches and chills, which are considered as normal side effects according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Both Castro and Williams said the side effects went away in a few days.

Once all individuals who are eligible and opt in to receive the vaccine under phase 1 are vaccinated, Weed ACH will move to phase 2.

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