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Clinic doors open wide for those wanting COVID-19 vaccine

Image of Military personnel administering the COVID-19 vaccine. The 109th Airlift Wing began administering COVID-19 vaccines in Scotia, N.Y., March 10, 2021. The vaccines are available to New York Army and Air National Guard members (Photo by: Air Force Master Sgt. Christine Wood).

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As of today, just about any adult in DOD can get a COVID-19 vaccine if they want one. That includes military personnel, adult dependents, retirees and civilians.

"All Defense Department-eligible and authorized adults are able to make an appointment by contacting their local military treatment facility for a COVID vaccine directly, or using their military treatment facility's appointment process," Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby said during a briefing today.

To help ensure military personnel and their families stationed overseas are taken care of, the military services are getting an additional 31,500 doses of the Moderna vaccine for use at locations within the U.S. European Command.

On the other side of the globe, an additional 30,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine are targeted at locations within both the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command and the U.S. Central Command.

By the end of May, he said, over 80% of overseas personnel should have received initial doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Defense Department, Kirby said, has outpaced the national average in administration of the vaccine it's received. Of the more than 3 million doses of vaccines it's received, more than 2.5 million have been administered.

"We're not keeping vaccines on the shelf," he said. With the DOD having administered about 83% of the vaccine it has received, "it's not waiting too long before ... we're getting [vaccines] into arms."

About 1.5 million individuals within the department have received their first shot, he said, and about 1 million have received both shots. More than 60,000 have received the single-dose vaccine as well, he said.

"We believe we're making progress here," he added, but "there's a lot more work to do."

The COVID-19 vaccine is still under emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration, and so it remains voluntary for personnel. Individuals must choose to take the vaccine, Kirby said.

"What we want is to provide enough information and education so people can make the right decisions," Kirby said. "If the vaccine makes sense for you from a medical perspective that should be incentive enough to get it so that you're helping out your teammates and your family and your friends."

While the DOD is moving quickly to provide vaccines to service members, and now family members and retirees who want it as well, it's also working equally hard on a different front: to provide the vaccine to the American people.

Right now, he said, the DOD has 30 active duty teams spread out around the nation, in support of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to provide vaccinations to the American public. In addition to active duty forces involved in that effort, he said, around 20,000 National Guard personnel have also been called up by their governors to provide assistance in their home states.

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