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To ensure full and efficient vaccine distribution to more than 30 subordinate commands across 32 military medical treatment facilities (MTFs), encompassing nearly 1.2 million people, Fleet Forces Command established the FVC to act as a conduit between vaccine supply and demand.
“The FVC is a high-performing team that ensures our forces get the vaccine as quickly as possible and in DoD-prioritized order. We work closely with our local medical teams, and the leadership in D.C. to ensure every dose is used, and to influence the supply chain to bring us more,” said Rear Adm. Doug Beal, USFFC vice commander and FVC lead.
Working with liaison officers from each type and system command, the FVC is the central point of contact, coordinating vaccinations for the total force, including active component personnel, assigned reservists, DoD civilians, contractors and allied, coalition, and partner-nation personnel.
“It’s an innovative and motivated team,” said Beal. “These professionals use the skills that make them good warfighters to design and implement a daily plan that ensures each command is ready to receive vaccine doses as soon as we get them. We are excited to be working with commanders who are leaning way forward to develop strategies and processes that will get doses safely to the fleet instead of having to bring the fleet to the vaccinations.”
As part of a pilot program developed by Commander, Naval Surface Force Atlantic, Sailors and Marines aboard the amphibious transport dock ship USS San Antonio (LPD 17), recently received their first of two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine on Jan. 11 while pier side at Naval Station Norfolk. It was the first time a large group of personnel was vaccinated against COVID outside of a hospital or MTF and aboard an East Coast Navy ship.
Until access to vaccines becomes more widely available and more Sailors are immunized, current COVID-19 mitigation measures such as facemasks, physical distancing, frequent hand washing, and staying home when feeling ill, still remain the most effective ways to prevent the spread of the disease. For now, even immunized Sailors must still follow all of the health protection measures implemented by the Navy.
Personnel are highly encouraged to take the vaccine to protect their health, their families, their community, and lower the public health risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. The vaccine helps move the Navy one step closer to unencumbered operations at sea, in port, and on liberty.
“The myths are certainly out there, but the science indicates that the vaccines are safe and very effective,” said Beal. “I do this job because I love and respect my shipmates. Taking care of our Sailors and their families is the number one way to ensure combat effectiveness, and the team knows that the sooner we get the fleet vaccinated, the sooner we can get back to normal at sea and at home. We’re just getting started, but we’ll continue to strive for more speed and efficiency.”
The immunization of dependents and retirees is not under USFFC authority.
Resources regarding vaccine safety and efficacy include the military health system communications toolkit at https://health.mil/about-mhs/mhs-toolkits/covid-19-vaccine-toolkit/ or the Centers for Disease Control information at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/index.html/.
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