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Doc's Medical Minute: Update on vaccine progress, activities for fully vaccinated

Airman smiling in a doctor's coat.

Medical Minute by U.S. Air Force Col. Ryan Mihata, 86th Medical Group commander, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Regina Burbidge)

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany --

It has been a couple weeks since my last note to you all, and as always the situation is continuously changing.  We know from genetic sequencing of samples from our local area that the “UK Variant” is now the predominant strain of the virus in our area.  We are truly in a third wave now with Germany’s 7-day incidence rate of 146 cases per 100,000 people and Kaiserslautern in a similar 144-153/100,000 range.  As you hopefully know, there are now federal restrictions in place including a curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.  On base we continue to have lower case counts than the area around us.  I believe this is due to the over 12,000 vaccines we have administered.   

It is clear that the vaccine campaign is starting to make a difference.  In the United States, the case rate is 106/100,000.  In the UK, where they have now vaccinated over 50% of their population, their case rate is 23/100,000, and they have been removed from the RKI “Risk” list.  This is a huge accomplishment for a country that was leading Europe in active cases not too long ago. 

To give perspective on our vaccination progress, from the beginning of January to mid-April, we administered about 7,000 doses.  In the last two weeks, we have administered more than 5,000 additional doses.  We now have sufficient supply for all TRICARE eligible and SOFA status Americans (18 and older) who want the vaccine.  There are two main ways to make an appointment.  First is through Tricare Online.  The second is through the DHA Appointing Portal (DAP).  You can find instructions for how to make these appointments on the Ramstein vaccine webpage: https://www.ramstein.af.mil/COVID-19-Vaccine-Information/.

Furthermore, last week we started vaccinating our local German workforce.  Protecting those who we work with directly also protects us and the entire local community.  We will continue our campaign until all 2,600 of our German teammates have been offered the vaccine.  Any interested Ramstein Local National employees should reach out to their chain of command.  I am working closely with these commanders to schedule.  Next in my sights is vaccination of our NATO partners.

As we move forward, restrictions will continue to decrease for fully vaccinated people.  We already see the start of this with Rheinland-Pfalz eliminating close contact quarantine for fully vaccinated individuals.  On base, you can expect to see more facilities and activities loosen restrictions for fully vaccinated people.  Our goal is to open up more activities by Memorial Day.  Vaccination protects you, your family, the population, and our mission! 

Please sign up to get vaccinated today!