Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center was one of the first sites in the country to start administering the newly approved COVID-19 Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine earlier this month and have been busy reaching beyond the initial first-responders and medical personnel who received it.
The number of medical personnel now protected by the first of the two-dose series measures in the thousands.
The facility first made the vaccine available for four days to all its personnel, deploying Soldiers and the medical personnel of III Corps, provided on a voluntary basis in accordance with the FDA’s Emergency Use Agreement.
With additional vaccine remaining, CRDAMC offered the protection of vaccine-achieved immunity to its at-risk beneficiaries.
The high risk patients began receiving the vaccine on Monday.
High-risk beneficiaries include those over 65 and those who have cancer, chronic kidney disease; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease , heart conditions; those in an immunocompromised state; obesity; pregnancy; sickle cell disease; smoking; or type 2 diabetes mellitus.
Hundreds of patients arrived early Monday morning, with Center staff arranging them in groups of thirty to receive the vaccine.
While patients sometimes waited as long as three hours to receive the vaccine, they were described as upbeat and cheerful.
“The flow and overall process was much quicker than anticipated. The knowledge, education and thoroughness of the staff were nothing less than a 10 out of 10 stars for this type of operation. I am very grateful the vaccine was available and I was able to receive it,” said CRDAMC patient, Darren Coleman.
“It is truly uplifting to be able to provide preventative medical services to these veterans, Soldiers, Family Members, and retirees. We have moved out as fast and safely as possible. Our goal is to ensure that the spirit of OPERATION WARP SPEED isn’t thwarted in the ‘last mile,’” said Col. Richard G. Malish, CRDAMC commander.
The initial vaccine supply was expected to be exhausted by Tuesday but more was expected to arrive after the first of the year.