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911th Airlift Wing receives COVID-19 vaccine

Tech. Sgt. Joseph Anthony, 911th Aeromedical Staging Squadron aeromedical technician, holds a COVID-19 vaccine vial at the Pittsburgh International Airport Air Reserve Station, Pennsylvania, Feb. 4, 2021.

Tech. Sgt. Joseph Anthony, 911th Aeromedical Staging Squadron aeromedical technician, holds a COVID-19 vaccine vial at the Pittsburgh International Airport Air Reserve Station, Pennsylvania, Feb. 4, 2021. The U.S. Air Force is committed to taking every precaution to ensure the health and wellbeing of all personnel and their families as well as the community we share. (U.S. Air Force photo by Joshua J. Seybert)

Tech. Sgt. Joseph Anthony, 911th Aeromedical Staging Squadron aeromedical technician, fills a syringe with the COVID-19 vaccine at the Pittsburgh International Airport Air Reserve Station, Pennsylvania, Feb. 4, 2021.

Tech. Sgt. Joseph Anthony, 911th Aeromedical Staging Squadron aeromedical technician, fills a syringe with the COVID-19 vaccine at the Pittsburgh International Airport Air Reserve Station, Pennsylvania, Feb. 4, 2021. The U.S. Air Force is committed to taking every precaution to ensure the health and wellbeing of all personnel and their families as well as the community we share. (U.S. Air Force photo by Joshua J. Seybert)

Tech. Sgt. Joseph Anthony, 911th Aeromedical Staging Squadron aeromedical technician, administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a member of the 911th Airlift Wing at the Pittsburgh International Airport Air Reserve Station, Pennsylvania, Feb. 4, 2021.

Tech. Sgt. Joseph Anthony, 911th Aeromedical Staging Squadron aeromedical technician, administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a member of the 911th Airlift Wing at the Pittsburgh International Airport Air Reserve Station, Pennsylvania, Feb. 4, 2021. The U.S. Air Force is committed to taking every precaution to ensure the health and wellbeing of all personnel and their families as well as the community we share. (U.S. Air Force photo by Joshua J. Seybert)

Staff Sgt. Stephen Barley, 911th Aeromedical Staging Squadron aeromedical technician, administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a member of the 911th Airlift Wing at the Pittsburgh International Airport Air Reserve Station, Pennsylvania, Jan. 28, 2021.

Staff Sgt. Stephen Barley, 911th Aeromedical Staging Squadron aeromedical technician, administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a member of the 911th Airlift Wing at the Pittsburgh International Airport Air Reserve Station, Pennsylvania, Jan. 28, 2021. The 911th Airlift Wing is committed to taking every precaution to ensure the health and wellbeing of all personnel and their families as well as the community we share. (U.S. Air Force photo by Joshua J. Seybert)

PITTSBURGH INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT AIR RESERVE STATION, Pa. --

The world has now been enduring the COVID-19 pandemic for more than a year. This global pandemic has impacted and changed many lives, some significantly more than others.

In the medical field, some Airmen assigned to the 911th Aeromedical Staging Squadron had to shift focus from normal, routine medical care to emergency pandemic response, including deploying to New York City to assist in the mitigation efforts there by treating their fellow citizens who were suffering with COVID-19.

Since the new COVID-19 vaccine rolled out, Tech. Sgt. Joseph Anthony, 911th ASTS non-commissioned officer in-charge of medical services, has seen his duties change.

“The focus has definitely shifted since the pandemic, and flexibility is key now more than ever,” said Anthony. “Preparing to receive the vaccine and distribute it is a priority, while still providing our day-to-day medical services to 911th Airlift Wing members.”

The COVID-19 vaccine is voluntary for all military members at this time, and the decision on whether or not to receive it is up to the individual’s discretion. Airmen are strongly encouraged to research their options and make the decision that is best for them and their families.

“The more people that are vaccinated, the sooner we can get through the pandemic,” Anthony said. “Members need to take the time to educate themselves using reliable sources so they can make an educated decision to receive the vaccine or not.”

Reliable sources include fact sheets from the Food and Drug Administration, frequently asked questions posted on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, and information posted on the Operation Warp Speed website, to name a few. However, members should use caution while conducting research as there is a wide array of misinformation and disinformation circulating about the pandemic.

“Every person has the right to know what they are putting into their body,” said Anthony. “Using reliable sources of information is paramount. Social media and news headlines are not [always] reliable.”

Any member who elects to be vaccinated will be screened for eligibility and then have to fill out a mandatory form before receiving the vaccine. Once they receive it, they will then get a COVID-19 vaccination card that will show the date they need to return for the second dose.

Because the vaccine is voluntary, members have the right to decline vaccination as well. Though they may need to fill out paperwork to decline, members can rest assured that this information stays between them and the clinic. No one will know that they have declined the vaccine, including their commander, unless the Airman tells them.

“Members who wish to decline the vaccine will still need to fill out the mandatory DHA Form 207 for vaccination allocation purposes,” said Anthony. “However, if the member changes their mind and wants to come in and receive it at a later time, they still can.”

Though members can decline the vaccination, it is important to research and weigh all options before making a decision.

“Vaccines have been proven to prevent and eradicate a lot of illnesses,” Anthony said. “If we can get most of our members, the nation, and eventually the world immunized, it will help prevent the virus from spreading and further mutating.”

Any member who wants to receive the vaccination can call the 911th ASTS to schedule an appointment.

“For me, the COVID-19 vaccine represents all that is good about America,” said Lt. Col. Bryan M. Bailey, 911th Operations Group commander. “Eleven months ago we didn’t know what this virus was, now we have a safe and effective vaccine – and that gives us hope. That’s why I took the vaccine, because America has always been about hope for a better future.”