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COVID-19 Vaccine Headed to NMC San Diego and NH Camp Pendleton

Gloved hands preparing vaccine for transportation The first doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine arrived at Naval Medical Center San Diego (NMCSD), with distribution being conducted in phases, Dec. 14. NMCSD and Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton (NHCP) were selected by the DOD's COVID Task Force based on recommendations from the military services and U.S. Coast Guard, to best support several criteria to include anticipated supply chain requirements, such as cold and bulk storage facilities; local population of at least 1,000 priority personnel across the military services; and sufficient medical personnel to administer vaccines and actively monitor vaccine recipients. NMCSD’s mission is to prepare service members to deploy in support of operational forces, deliver high quality healthcare services and shape the future of military medicine through education, training and research. (Photo by Navy Mass Communications Petty Officer First Class Vernishia Vaughn-Lucas.)

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The COVID-19 vaccine that received emergency use authorization (EUA) approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last week is headed to two military treatment facilities in Southern California.

On Monday, Dec. 14, Naval Medical Center San Diego (NMCSD) received its first shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine, some of which will be distributed to Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton (NHCP). Naval Medical Center San Diego expects to begin vaccinations Tuesday, Dec. 15 and Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton expects to begin vaccinations on Wednesday, Dec. 16. This shipment is part of the DOD allotment of vaccine and is separate from vaccine being shipped directly to State of California authorities.

In accordance with the Department of Defense’s prioritization schema for administering the vaccine, which is consistent with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the first doses of the vaccine will be given to frontline health care workers and first responders, including emergency medical services personnel, security forces, and other essential personnel.

"As part of our commitment to protect the health of our people, maintain readiness, and support the national pandemic response, we are proud to support Operation Warp Speed and the Department of Defense in getting this much-needed COVID-19 vaccine to our military treatment facilities in the San Diego region,” said Navy Rear Adm. Tim Weber, commander, Naval Medical Forces Pacific. “I encourage everyone who has the opportunity to get vaccinated, to do so. This doesn’t just protect the health of individuals, it protects the health of our shipmates, our families, and our community.”

The vaccine for COVID-19 was only made available after the manufacturer demonstrated it to be safe and effective in large, phase 3 clinical trials, a requirement for receiving the FDA’s approval for an EUA. In phase 3 vaccine trials, researchers administer the vaccine to very large groups of people to confirm how effectively it prevents illness, to monitor for potential side effects, and to collect information that allows the vaccine that allows it to be used safely. Before the FDA grants approval, it reviews the data submitted by the manufacturer for all clinical trial phases.

“This is the first step in getting the COVID-19 vaccine to everyone who wants it and the end goal is reducing the risk of COVID-19 infection and its impact on our warfighters and our nation,” added Weber. “But until we enter the next phase of expanding vaccine distribution and it becomes widely available, I encourage everyone to fight complacency and continue with vital public health measures such as wearing masks, socially distancing, and washing your hands frequently.”

Naval Medical Forces Pacific (NMFP), led by Navy Rear Adm. Tim Weber, provides oversight for 11 Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Commands (NMRTC), on the West Coast and Pacific Rim that train, man, and equip medical forces, primarily in military treatment facilities. Globally, NMFP oversees eight research laboratories that deliver cutting-edge research to enhance the deployment readiness and survivability of our warfighters.

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