Front-line medical workers, those protecting national security, deploying forces and essential workers will be the first Department of Defense employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, according to plan announced this week. The press release states DOD will receive 43,875 initial doses and will distribute the vaccine based upon medical need and location.
Vaccine distribution will begin now that the Federal Drug Administration authorizes the COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, following the guidance of Operation Warp Speed. However, initial doses allocated do not cover the population of the U.S. military and dependents. The DOD plans to use the distribution schema put in place by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to determine who will receive the vaccine first.
According to the press release, the DOD has been working closely with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as well as the CDC on the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine. These doses will be supplied to CONUS and OCONUS populations, and they will be available to active and selected reserve component service members, including the National Guard, as well as dependents, retirees, civilian employees and select DOD contract personnel.
“The Department will focus initial COVID-19 vaccination efforts on health care workers, emergency services personnel, personnel performing activities associated with critical national capabilities, select deploying individuals, other critical and essential support personnel and high-risk individuals prior to vaccinating other healthy individuals,” a memo put out by the Deputy Secretary of Defense said.
According to the DOD, the distribution schema will be as follows:
Phase 1– Phase 1 will include front-line medical workers, those protecting national security and installation functions, deploying forces and other essential workers.
- Phase 1.a will include healthcare and support personnel at Military Treatment Facilities (MTF), outpatient clinics, medical homes, blood donation centers and counseling centers. It may also include dental facilities and does include civilian and contracted employees as well as active and reserve component service members who fit into the Phase 1.a criteria.
- Phase 1.b will include any other essential and critical support personnel following the CDC’s guidelines.
Phase 2– Phase 2 includes any high-risk beneficiaries by age or pre-determining factors.
Phase 3– Phase 3 is the final phase and will include the healthy population of beneficiaries.
You can see the proposed timeline below:
The DOD’s COVID Task Force team determined a select number of locations to distribute the vaccine due to the limited availability. The following criteria were used to determine locations for initial distribution:
- If a location had sufficient storage capabilities for the initial distribution (i.e. ultra-cold, bulk storage facility);
- If a location had a population of at least 1,000 priority personnel across the military services to facilitate rapid vaccine administration;
- And if there were sufficient necessary medical personnel to administer vaccines and actively monitor vaccine recipients after initial and second-dose administration at that location.
CONUS locations to be used as initial vaccination sites:
- Darnall Army Medical Center, Fort Hood, Texas
- Willford Hall, Joint Base San Antonio, Texas
- Madigan Army Medical Center, Joint Base Lewis McChord, Wash.
- Womack Army Medical Center, Fort Bragg, N.C.
- Navy Branch Health Clinic, Naval Air Station, Jacksonville, Fla.
- Base Alameda Health Services (clinic), U.S. Coast Guard Base, Alameda, Calif.
- Naval Medical Center, San Diego, CA and Naval Hospital, Camp Pendleton, Calif.
- Naval Hospital Pensacola, Pensacola, Fla.
- Armed Forces Retirement Home, Gulfport Mississippi (Keesler AFB will administer; distribution from Pensacola)
- Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, Md.
- Armed Forces Retirement Home, Washington, D.C. (distribution from Walter Reed)
- Portsmouth Naval Medical Center, Portsmouth, Va.
- U.S. Coast Guard Base Clinic, Portsmouth, Va. (distribution from Portsmouth Naval Medical Center)
- Indiana National Guard, Franklin, Ind.
- New York National Guard Medical Command, Watervliet, N.Y.
OCONUS locations to be used as initial vaccination sites:
- Tripler Army Medical Center, Honolulu, Hawaii
- Allgood Army Community Hospital, Camp Humphreys, Korea
- Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany
- Kadena Medical Facility, Kadena AB, Japan
As the COVID-19 vaccine becomes more widely available, the DOD will authorize additional distribution phases to begin and for more locations to become available. However, those that are able to visit a TRICARE-approved vaccination location within their local community will be encouraged to do so. Vaccination will not be required for service members or any DOD beneficiary, but it is recommended.
“[The] DOD recommends vaccination of all DOD-affiliated individuals, as appropriate. [The] HHS and [the] CDC intend to make COVID-19 vaccines widely available within the United States, including at retail pharmacies. These efforts are expected to cover a substantial proportion of DoD-affiliated individuals,” the memo put out by the Deputy Secretary of Defense said.