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

COVID-19 vaccine rollout ongoing in U.S. Army Central footprint

Two healthcare workers, wearing masks, adding the COVID-19 vaccine to syringes Army Specialists Michael Meza and John Cera, healthcare specialists with the 228th Combat Support Hospital, draw doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine from vials at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, Jan. 18, 2021. Camp Arifjan is utilizing a phased distribution of the vaccine, as specified by the Department of Defense, beginning with medical personnel and first responders. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Noel Gerig)

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | MHS Toolkits and Branding Guidance | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

The COVID-19 vaccination program in the U.S. Army Central’s area of operations is underway.

“The COVID-19 vaccine has begun coming into theater,” said Army Brig. Gen. Justin Swanson, commanding general of the Army Reserve 310th Expeditionary Sustainment Command.

Swanson is also the deputy commanding general of 1st Theater Sustainment Command, which is based at Fort Knox, Kentucky, and also has a forward deployed headquarters established at Camp Arifjan in Kuwait. The forward deployed headquarters, which operates as an operational command post, or 1st TSC-OCP, is staffed with rotations from subordinate echelons of mobilized active-duty and reserve component units, providing sustainment and logistics support to U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, as well as to units throughout the Middle East.

The 1st TSC, working hand-in-hand with 3rd Medical Command-Deployment Support, coordinated the transport and storage of the vaccine in theater. The initial tranche or portion of the vaccine arrived around mid-January and administration began shortly after its arrival.

Those who received the initial doses of vaccine were at the top of a prioritized list of personnel, which 1st TSC developed in accordance with the Department of Defense’s vaccine distribution guidance.

“Some of the soldiers, even on our staff have been vaccinated—but only our medical personnel at this point,” said Swanson, who is himself a COVID-19 survivor.

“The priority is the same here as it is in CONUS,” said the general, who before his 1993 commission, served as a combat medic in the Louisiana National Guard. “As the vaccines and the number of doses grows, we have built a prioritization model for our entire footprint.”

In addition to prioritizing medical personnel, other military personnel targeted in the first phase of vaccinations are in jobs where their interactions with other Soldiers make them particularly vulnerable, he said.

The second tranche of vaccines, scheduled to arrive in the near future, will serve as the second doses for personnel, who received the first tranche, he said. Then, subsequent tranches are set to vaccinate personnel in Afghanistan and other regions.

Army Col. Jennifer Marrast Host, the commander of 3rd MCDS's forward headquarters at Camp Arifjan, said the vaccination program in theater is a priority for every one of her “Desert Medic” Soldiers.

The 3rd MCDS is responsible for executing strategic medical operations across the entire U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.

According to the colonel, the vaccine administered by her soldiers is produced by Moderna, which requires two doses approximately 28 days apart.

"We watch someone very closely for about 15 minutes after the injection to make sure they are not having a negative response," she said. "After that, they are ready to get back to work." Marrast Host said the side effects are relatively minor.

"There might be some muscle aching, localized swelling or a low-grade fever-you might just feel under the weather," she said.

"It is more likely that you would have some of the side effects after the second dose, but it is also sometimes after the first one," she said.

The colonel said the most important consideration for rolling out the vaccine to specific regions or installations is the availability of freezers and refrigerators.

"The vaccine must be frozen as it is transported around," she said. "After it is thawed, it is good to be used for 30 days, as long it is kept refrigerated--but it cannot be moved.

Swanson said distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine and COVID-19 mitigation are top priorities for the 1st TSC.

"What the 1st TSC will do from a distribution standpoint—one of the things that we do as our mission set—we will move the vaccine just like any other commodity that we move—and we move all commodities across the battlefield,” he said.

“Once it comes into theater, we will move it where it needs to be—any of the countries or locations, where we have U.S. forces—or forces that we will provide the vaccine for,” he said. “We have already gone through the first couple tranches of distribution and that will continue to grow, as will the number of doses continue to grow.”

The vaccine is currently voluntary for military personnel, but Swanson’s staff have surveyed troops to ask who is uncomfortable with the vaccine and who is willing to receive it.

“The vaccine is voluntary, at this point,” he said. “We understand who will volunteer to take the vaccine and who won’t—and we are prepared to support, once doses of vaccine hit the ground.”

You also may be interested in...

The COVID-19 Pandemic: How Health Care Workers are Coping

Article
9/13/2021
a nurse helping a COVID-19 patient

For health care providers, experiencing the pandemic inside a hospital has brought

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Military Health Podcasts

Increased COVID Restrictions on the Pentagon Reservation

Article
9/8/2021
Military personnel wearing a face mask

Due to the increase in COVID-19 cases and positive test cases in the National Capital Region, the Pentagon Reservation will move to Health Protection Condition Bravo Plus (Bravo+)

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus

Digital health innovation emerges during COVID-19 pandemic

Article
8/31/2021
The Defense Health Agency’s Connected Health Branch was there to support, advise and deliver new health innovations throughout the pandemic. (Graphic courtesy of DHA Connected Health)

The DHA's Connected Health Branch was there to support, advise, and deliver new health innovations throughout the pandemic.

Recommended Content:

Connected Health | Coronavirus

As Fitness Tests Resume, Troops Seek Post-COVID Exercise Routines

Article
8/31/2021
Military personnel physically training

Keeping fit during pandemic proves hard for some.

Recommended Content:

Total Body Preventive Health and Total Force Fitness | Total Force Fitness | Physical Fitness | Coronavirus

Secretary of Defense Mandates COVID-19 Vaccinations for Service Members

Article
8/26/2021
An Army medic administers the COVID-19 vaccine to another soldier.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III yesterday issued a memorandum directing mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for service members.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

DOD Intends to Mandate Pfizer Vaccine, Pentagon Official Says

Article
8/25/2021
Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby holds a press briefing, at the Pentagon, Washington, D.C.

Kirby said the health of DOD's military and civilian employees, families and communities is a top priority.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Maintaining Mission Readiness During a Pandemic

Article
8/24/2021
Gen. Place presents at HIMSS in Las Vegas.

DHA Director Army Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Ronald Place discussed the national security implications of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Heroes Behind the Mask | Deployment Health

Reform, COVID-19 Have Been Catalysts for Change in Military Medicine

Article
8/16/2021
Dr. Terry Adirim speaking to an audience at a conference

Healthcare is about taking care of people, so no amount of change or innovation is ever sufficient if modernization does not lead to helping patients, says acting ASDHA at HIMSS21 in Las Vegas.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Military Health System Transformation

Don't Hesitate: Vaccinate Today for School

Article
8/13/2021
A boy gets the COVID-19 vaccine

Back to School Means Vaccine Time

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus | Immunization Healthcare | Vaccine-Preventable Diseases | Vaccine Recommendations | Children's Health | Immunizations | TRICARE Health Program

DOD's Whole of Government Approach to COVID is Working, Says Adirim

Article
8/13/2021
Dr. Terry Adirim, acting assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, right, speaks during a panel discussion.

Dr. Terry Adirim, said she has been impressed by the DOD’s COVID-19 response since taking over as ASDHA, and that adaptation and innovation have played key parts in that response.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Technology | Telehealth Program | Military Health System Transformation

Services Will Make Call on Religious Exemptions to COVID-19 Vaccines

Article
8/13/2021
Two medical people prepare syringes with doses of the COVID-19 vaccine

"There is a religious exemption possibility for any mandatory vaccine, and there's a process that we go through to counsel the individual both from a medical and from a command perspective about using a religious exemption," Kirby said.

Recommended Content:

Public Health | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Austin Seeks Presidential Approval for Mandatory Troop Vaccinations by Mid-September

Article
8/10/2021
Sailors receive COVID-19 vaccinations

The COVID-19 vaccine will be mandatory for service members by mid-September, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III said in a message to the force released yesterday.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Top Military Medical Doctor Predicts Coronavirus Longevity

Article
8/9/2021
Army Lt. Gen. Ronald J. Place, director of Defense Health Agency, delivers remarks at a media briefing on COVID-19 at the Pentagon, April 21, 2021

I believe we will get to a place where we're not talking about COVID all the time

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

Senior Medical Leaders Discuss COVID-19 Response

Article
8/6/2021
Army Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Ronald J. Place, director of the Defense Health Agency making remarks

The keys to tackling the emerging COVID-19 pandemic were to quickly develop a comprehensive understanding of the virus, and then put a plan in place to fight it, says DHA Director.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus

Debunking Anti-Vaccine Myths with Scientific Facts

Article
8/5/2021
A soldier gets a shot in the arm.

Get the facts: Myths on why not to get COVID-19 vaccination debunked by science

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 26

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.