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Doc's Medical Minute: Update on Pfizer vaccine for kids, fully vaccinated benefits

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 --

Lots of great news this week!  First on the numbers front: Germany has seen a continual decrease over the last week or so in its case counts, and it’s currently at just under 80 per 100,000.  Kaiserslautern followed the wave of increasing cases but is now on the downtrend as well.  The city and county are both under the 100 case mark per 100,000.  The United States is likewise doing well at 68 per 100,000. On base our active case counts have been very low for weeks.  I credit our extensive vaccination effort over the past month in helping us get to this point.  I expect to continue to see these down-trending numbers as more and more people get vaccinated.

Perhaps the best vaccine news is the FDA has approved the Pfizer vaccine Emergency Use Authorization for ages 12-17.  Landstuhl Regional Medical Center is taking the lead in administering all Pfizer vaccines to our adolescent beneficiaries, and appointments are now available.  Parents can sign up their kids here: https://informatics-stage.health.mil/KaiserslauternCOVIDApp/.  All of the Pfizer supply will be distributed at LRMC.  Adults should continue to receive Moderna, as the shipments for Pfizer are based off the eligible population for ages 12-17.  Speaking of adults, Moderna is now widely available to adults with appointments going empty every day.  Additionally, there are walk-in hours from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. every weekday at Ramstein’s vaccination location.  To date the 86th Medical Group has given nearly 18,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine.  In partnership with our local host nation medics, more than 1,600 doses have been administered to our Local National teammates, as well. 

Being vaccinated has lots of benefits.  Not only is there the protection from getting severe illness due to COVID, but your protection confers protection to your families (especially kids under 12 that cannot be vaccinated).  Vaccination also lightens restrictions.  There is no need to quarantine if you are fully vaccinated and a close contact of a known positive, and it eliminates the need to quarantine upon arrival to Germany.  On a social note, vaccination decreases some testing requirements, it allows meetings and gatherings in larger (fully vaccinated) groups, it lightens the mask wear restrictions, and travel will likely open up soon.  Additionally, the installation is planning to open more facilities and opportunities soon for fully vaccinated people.  From a mission perspective, it has greatly decreased the number of people in medical quarantine after close contact with known COVID cases.   

I have a significant amount of optimism now.  We can see the light at the end of this dark tunnel we have been in for the last 15 months.  We have all been in this together, and we will all get out of this together.  Continue good prevention precautions: wash your hands, wear your masks, watch your distance…and get vaccinated today!  #VaccinatedAF