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Duke Field plans drive-through vaccinations for Reservists

DUKE FIELD, Fla. -- To ensure the readiness of Citizen Air Commandos, the 919th Special Operations Medical Squadron has begun ordering the Comirnaty vaccine—previously known as the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and anticipate to have it available Sept. 11-12, 2021.

With new COVID cases increasing in the local area, the 919th Special Operations Wing leadership is taking every precaution for the well-being of all 919th SOW members, their families, as well as the community.

“The 919th hit an all-time peak in the month of August with the number of positive COVID-19 cases,” said Maj. Katharine Saunders, 919th SOMDS public health emergency officer.

Saunders said Reserve members who choose to get vaccinated will have the opportunity on-base as soon as the 919th SOMDS receives the go ahead from Air Force Reserve Command.

Currently, the 919th SOMDS plans to hold a drive-through vaccination line at the 919th SOMDS clinic during the September UTA.  Reserve members will be required to be fully vaccinated by December 2, 2021.

“The option for military members to receive the vaccination through other means in their community is also permitted,” said Saunders.

Saunders stated military members can receive any of the EUA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines off-base, which includes Pfizer, Moderna and the Johnson&Johnson vaccines.

Military members who receive the vaccine off base will need to provide the CDC vaccination card to the medical clinic to certify their vaccination status and have their military records updated.

Reserve members seeking more information about the vaccine and if it’s right for them may review AFRC’s COVID-19 vaccination page here

Air Force Reserve Command’s public health officer, Col. Belinda Cole, said that many people were concerned that the vaccines made it through the development process with relative speed. She said this is because most of the science behind their development was established or had been worked on for other viruses.

Saunders added, “The mRNA technology has actually been studied since the 1990’s and mRNA vaccines have been in development for other viruses such as Ebola, MERS and Zika.”

Furthermore she emphasized the safety and efficacy data by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is 88 percent effective in preventing symptomatic disease from the Delta variant of the SARS-CoV2 virus according to Saunders.

“I treat COVID patients in my civilian job as a nurse practitioner, so I’ve seen the effects this disease can have,” said Saunders. “The COVID vaccines available in the U.S. now have all undergone rigorous trials and testing to ensure safety.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, getting vaccinated won’t necessarily prevent an individual from getting the virus, including any of the new variants, but it will likely make the experience less severe and lower the risk of hospitalization and death.

“I trust the science and believe the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks of possible side effects, said Saunders.”