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Medical Minute: Update on COVID situation, satellite pharmacy plan

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 --

Thanks to the entire community for the collective prevention measures.  We continue to do well in preventing the spread of COVID.  Germany has vaccinated more than 40% of its population, and we have seen a great decrease in the overall incidence rate.  The country overall is now 24 cases per 100,000 people.  In Kaiserslautern, the city is 36 cases per 100,000 people and the county is an amazing 17 per 100,000 people.  On base, our active case count has been very low for weeks.

As you have probably noticed, restrictions are being relaxed and we are seeing the opening of the economy, including travel.  Being fully vaccinated reduces host nation restrictions even more.  To date, Ramstein has administered more than 24,000 doses of vaccine.  We continue to have appointments go unfilled every day.  For Americans (adults), there are walk-in hours every weekday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.  Because we rely on host nation medics to help vaccinate local nationals and partner nation forces, we are unable to offer walk-in services for these groups.  As the demand for shots is decreasing greatly, we are planning to start drawing down the shot line operations in the near future.

As we watch the pandemic continuing to unfold, I am following what is happening in the UK very closely.  The RKI has listed the UK as a “variant” country (directing quarantine regardless of status).  The UK has seen a resurgence in their cases due to the “Delta” variant.  This is the variant first seen in India.  The spread of this variant is primarily in the unvaccinated population.  As far as we can tell, being fully vaccinated seems to be protective against this variant, with slightly less protection if vaccinated with only one shot.  The UK case counts are up about 20%, primarily in the unvaccinated population.

On the non-COVID front, we are preparing for the grand opening of the satellite pharmacy in early August!  Located in the KMCC, this pharmacy will be available to all of our beneficiaries and will be the primary location for refills for both LRMC as well as Ramstein.  This is a great collaboration between Army Medicine and the Air Force Medical Service.  It is an example of the future of the Military Health System as the Defense Health Agency continues to make military medics more collaborative.

I continue to be optimistic about the end to the pandemic.  We have all been in this together, but now is not the time to let down your guard.  Continue to be aware of laws and regulations, both on the installation as well as in our local communities.  Continue good prevention measures.  If you have not been vaccinated yet, get an appointment or walk in today!  #VaccinatedAF