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940th ARW organizes mass COVID vaccine lineup

  • Published
  • By Rossi D. Pedroza
  • 940th Air Refueling Wing

Keeping ahead of obstacles from the COVID-19 pandemic, the 940th Air Refueling Wing has been navigating through, but with the arrival of the vaccine, the mission has more fuel for the fight.

The wing received 157 Moderna vaccines and started vaccinations in early February. Three rounds were given to 940 unit members before the March Reserve weekend, and a bunch of folks got the shot on the March UTA.

“This is the fourth time we have done organized vaccines for the 940th personnel. We have done three so far that have been during the month because of mission capabilities and the people being available,” said Master Sgt. Jenna Gasper, 940th Aerospace Medicine Squadron, NCIOC of Immunizations  and operational flight technician.  “But this is the first time we are doing a mass lineup on a UTA weekend. We have 77 people coming in.”

With the receipt of 157 Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, the 940th ARW all personnel began lining up. The distribution process still remains in accordance with the Department of Defense guidelines.

The Air Force Medical Readiness Agency states: Priority is to protect our service members, DoD civilians and families to safeguard national security capabilities and support the whole-of-government response to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

 “We are on a very strict and rigid logistics schedule on how the Air Force Medical Readiness Agency sends us the vaccine and the very minute we get notification that we are going to have vaccines available, we begin working very diligently.  Between myself and Senior Master Sgt. Ellie Torres, 940 AMDS squadron superintendent and with Colonel Jeffrey Downs, 940th ARW commander, we insure we have enough staff available to give it as soon as Reservists are here,” said Gasper.

There is a tier schedule in place. However, the vaccine is available to as many people as possible.

Gasper explains, “So if a person isn’t correctly in that specific tier that we are supposed to be in and because I have vaccines available, maybe not everyone in that tier wants it at that time. We moved down our schema and have allowed other people to get the vaccine.”

 This is an optional vaccine and as they become available, the doses are administered.

“It’s a good thing,” Gasper commented.  “We are trying to get as many vaccines in the arms of the 940th members as possible.”  

According to Air Force Medical Readiness Agency, a few facts about mRNA vaccines is these vaccines have been well-studied for influenza, Zika and cytomegalovirus or CMV.  The mRNA does not enter the DNA in the human cell and the mRNA from the SARS-CoV-2 cannot give someone COVID-19.

As a required precaution taken with the vaccine distribution, the trained medical staff was ever attentive to the possibility of adverse reactions from a vaccine injection. A wait time of 15 minutes after injection is the current standard for observing negative reactions.

Major Sonia Troxell, 940th AMDS, advanced practice provider physician’s assistant stated, “Regarding the Moderna vaccine, I think people need to realize that it wasn’t rushed. Moderna does have the history of knowing how to do vaccines, how they work within the body and how they affect the immune system. It is proven to be safe with very limited adverse reactions.”

Although getting the vaccine is voluntary, DoD personnel are encouraged to get it to protect their health, their families and their community.

“If somebody is interested in receiving the COVID vaccine and we have it, we would like for them to get it,” Troxell said.

“We need to put more vaccines in arms of the people that want it. I think it is really important because some of our 940th members are not in the correct tier in reference to their their counties or in their current jobs to be eligible to get a vaccine with the public just because they serve their country,” concluded Gasper. “But they may be able to get it in a Reserve status and we think that is just great!”

The mass lineup for the COVID-19 vaccine began at 1000 PDT on day two of the March UTA. (U.S. Air Force photo by Rossi D. Pedroza)