Naval hospitals at Camp Pendleton and San Diego will have doses of the COVID-19 vaccine by Wednesday and will start putting shots in arms of personnel immediately.
The vaccine arrived in San Diego on Monday as part of a shipment spread among 13 national and 16 global defense sites as part of the emergency rollout. The Pentagon is receiving 40,000 units, but Navy officials on Monday could not share how many doses the two Southern California military hospitals will get or what the virus impacts are presently on military personnel.
Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton and Naval Medical Center San Diego were selected based on their populations and the number of medical personnel who can monitor vaccine recipients. Presently both their intensive care units are filling up.
The Pentagon will use these two initial sites to develop protocols for further distribution to other sites, officials said.
The first doses will be distributed to frontline healthcare workers and first responders, including security forces and other personnel at Balboa and Camp Pendleton.
“We’ll be driving down to Balboa on Wednesday to pick up the doses,” said Capt. Shelley Perkins, commanding officer of the Naval Medical Readiness Training Command, during a roundtable discussion held by Navy personnel on Monday to announce the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine.
The vaccine will be administered voluntarily. Those who refuse will still stay in their positions and follow the standard COVID protection protocol. After the initial rollout this week, vaccines will also be distributed to deploying personnel and those under the military healthcare plan, including active duty, reservists and their family members, military retirees and veterans.
Navy officials emphasized the safety of the vaccine and the thorough testing process it has undergone.
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