Doc's Medical Minute: COVID vaccine is almost here!

  • Published
  • By Col (Dr.) Ryan Mihata, 86th Medical Group Commander
  • 86th Medical Group

Happy New Year! Well, almost. Our first portion of the COVID vaccine is on its way. We are hopeful to have started administration by the time the calendar turns to 2021. The Department of Defense priority system places our first responders and medical personnel in the first phase. I plan to be among the first to receive the vaccine, along with our COVID medical team and other leaders eligible in this first phase. It is amazing how Operation WARP SPEED has progressed. As an emergency and critical care physician, I watch the daily struggle of the health care system in the United States trying to provide necessary care for critically ill patients. I trust the science behind the vaccine and believe this is the only way to get us back to some semblance of normalcy. I will be working with the Public Affairs team to share my personal vaccine experience with you.

The vaccine is delivered in two doses administered approximately a month apart. It is important to remember that you should not take any other vaccines within two weeks of the COVID vaccine. The first dose provides an initial level of protection, which is built upon by the second dose. Both vaccines are greater than 90% effective. While getting the vaccine will not stop individual requirements for face coverings, physical distancing, or other hygiene precautions, it will start to build immunity within our population as a whole.

As we progress through the phased approach, we hope to have it available for all Americans in the KMC, including Federal civilian employees and contractors. We are watching closely the approval process in the European Union and Germany, and hope to collaborate with our local partners to help protect our entire community.

On the influenza vaccine front, there is some more good news. Influenza continues to remain at low levels across Europe. The European CDC reports these levels as “inter-seasonal” (the levels seen between influenza seasonal patterns) with zero of 1,291 sentinel samples testing positive. Vaccine production from the manufacturer has resumed and the Defense Logistics Agency has started to receive some supply. Distribution of this supply has started across the Department of Defense. Here at Ramstein, we hope to receive our complete allocation within the next month. More information will follow as we get more details.

Again, Happy New Year! Please continue your precautions in accordance with local guidance including the two household limit on gatherings. As a reminder, fireworks are not allowed this year – not only are they a safety risk, but also would promote social gatherings putting us at risk for spread of COVID.