Wright-Patterson waits for word on coronavirus vaccines

Base commander says team is ready to receive, store and distribute vaccines when they arrive



The Department of Defense has distributed about 44,000 initial doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to 13 military bases. But officials at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base have not heard when the local base is due to receive any doses, a spokeswoman for the 88th Air Base Wing said Wednesday.

“As of now, we do not know when they will arrive,” said Stacey Geiger, a spokeswoman for the 88th Air Base Wing, which acts as landlord for Wright-Patterson.

When the vaccine becomes available, Wright-Patterson will publicize that availability, she said.

Col. Patrick Miller, installation commander at Wright-Patterson and commander of the 88th Air Base Wing, said last week that Wright-Patterson was not then slated to receive vaccines.

“Wright-Patterson is not part of the initial distribution of vaccines,” he said then. “The Department of Defense is laying out those priorities, running through that, but that does not mean we’re sitting idle.”

He said base personnel recently went through a “table top” exercise, a dry run to plan how to receive, store and distribute vaccines.

“And I tell you, the team is ready,” Miller said. “And whenever we do receive vaccines, we have a plan in place for distribution.”

He also said the base will follow a “prescriptive” approach in distributing vaccines, with a focus on health care workers.

“Whenever we do receive vaccines, it’s something very similar to what Ohio is doing and many other states are doing,” the colonel said. “And that’s following a prescriptive criteria, working our way down some priorities, and the No. 1 focus is going to be on our health care workers, our first responders and any other public safety personnel that we have. That’s where our focus is going to be.”

Miller also said in a recent Facebook video that the base remains in “health care protection condition bravo.” Such status would ordinarily let up to half of the base’s working population of more than 30,000 people return to installation offices and work sites.

However, working from home and elsewhere continues to be the emphasized norm, he added.

“If you don’t have a need to come to the installation, don’t come to the installation,” Miller said.

Immediately after the Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Dec. 12, the DoD sent out 44,000 initial doses to 13 military bases, the Military Health Service reported. The Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center on Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas was among those bases, the service reported.

Also receiving vaccine doses were Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawaii; the Navy Medical Center in San Diego; the Navy Medical Center in Portsmouth, Virginia.; and the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, among other sites, the military said.

The department and Wright-Patterson leaders are all encouraging employees to get the influenza vaccine this year.

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