FORT HOOD, Texas — 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 on Dec. 15.
CRDAMC and its Fort Hood partners surged to ensure that all first-responders and medical personnel were afforded the opportunity to receive the vaccine. The number of medical personnel now protected by the first of the two-dose series measures in the thousands.
CRDAMC made the vaccine available for four days to all its personnel, deploying Soldiers and the medical personnel of III Corps. The vaccine was 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.
On Friday, Dec 18, CRDAMC alerted high-risk patients that vaccine would be available beginning Monday, Dec 21. 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 at CRDAMC early on the morning of Dec 21. CRDAMC staff arranged them in groups of thirty to receive the vaccine. Days of planning resulted in a smooth operation. While patients sometimes waited as long as three hours to receive the vaccine, they remained upbeat and cheerful – happy with the communication and professionalism of the CRDAMC staff.
“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.
CRDAMC leadership was also happy with the way the process of vaccinations has gone so far.
“The patients have been optimistic, patient and full of gratitude for the service. 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.
CRDAMC expects to exhaust its current supply of COVID-19 vaccinations by Tuesday – but more vaccines are coming. CRDAMC’s higher headquarters has solicited CRDAMC’s methods and lessons to prepare other military treatment facilities to replicate its success. “We haven’t been perfect,” said Malish, “but this amazing CRDAMC team has faithfully executed OPERATION SAFEGUARD, Fort Hood’s vaccination effort. We do not anticipate another shipment this year but look forward to being able to provide additional vaccines to our beneficiaries in 2021.”