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Vaccine arrives at JBLM

Military not ordered to take vaccine - 100% voluntary

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Photo: Mark Robinson, material handler (left), Pfc. Saurav Shrestha, 68J Medical Logistician, and Paul Russell, Chief of Logistics, inspect the first shipment of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine Tuesday, Dec. 15 at Madigan Army Medical Center on Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

The first shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine arrived at Joint Base Lewis-McChord this morning, according to Lt. Gen. Randy George, base and I Corps commander.

Because the vaccine was authorized for emergency use, he said it is "completely voluntary for everyone ... including military members."

If you decline the shot, Madigan officials said it will not affect a person's "priority."

Those who receive a vaccine will be provided a card of proof, plus it will be added to the servicemember's official record.  An app is soon to be released for proof, plus to serve as reminder to get the second dose on time.

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First responders and hospital workers most vulnerable to exposure to COVID-19 based on their job will be first to receive the vaccine starting tomorrow. These include EMT, police, and ICU staff, then will expand to other hospital workers. Not all will be covered in the first shipment. Next will be other hospital workers, followed by critical national and support personnel and those preparing to deploy. After that those with health issues at high risk to COVID will be vaccinated, and finally the healthy population.  COVID-19 is free, and will cover all military, DoD employees and all military medical beneficeries based on the tier system.

The second dose will be 21 days after the first.  If you have already had COVID-19, it is still recommended to receive it.

Units will inform troops and employees when they may receive the vaccine.

The American Lake Event Center will be the location for the vaccine distribution, George said.

Madigan officials expect that dependents will receive their vaccinations from military healthcare professionals, which will be communicated through the military health system.

George said the timing of when each population gets vaccinated will be in accordance with government plans.  George said for the healthy population it might be "several months."

As for current safety protocols, George said the base will continue to follow state guidelines except for a few exceptions, including active duty still have access to base gyms.  He expects the state to extend the current order to January 15.

Officials said there should be a spacing of 14 days between a COVID vaccine and a flu shot.

Mitigation rules still apply to those who receive a vaccine.

Madigan officials said the vaccine is safe for pregnant women.

In other news ...

Vacant homes on base are due to winter rotation, and Lincoln housing is behind in readying the homes for new occupants, according to Col. Skye Duncan, garrison commander.

BAH increases for the greater areas around JBLM will be as high as 9 percent for 2021, Duncan added.  The average is 4-5 percent in increases.

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