By Staff Sgt. K. Tucker Owen, 31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published January 08, 2021
Six Airmen assigned to the 31st Fighter Wing receive the first Moderna COVID-19 vaccines at Aviano Air Base, Italy, Jan. 8, 2021. Inoculations for the 31st Fighter Wing will be given in a tiered approach, with first-tier recipients including healthcare workers and first responders such as law enforcement and firefighters. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. K. Tucker Owen)
Boxes of Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are placed into a freezer at Aviano Air Base, Italy, Jan. 7, 2021. Each box holds 10 vials, with each vial containing approximately 10 doses of the vaccine. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. K. Tucker Owen)
U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Siejeay Dimla, 31st Medical Support Squadron medical logistics technician, right, and Staff Sgt. Carol Hubbard, 31st Health Care Operations Squadron immunizations technician, left, place boxes of Moderna COVID-19 vaccines inside a freezer at Aviano Air Base, Italy, Jan. 7, 2021. Initial quantities of the vaccine are limited and will be distributed on a rolling delivery basis as more vaccines become available. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. K. Tucker Owen)
U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Siejeay Dimla, 31st Medical Support Squadron medical logistics technician, opens the case holding Moderna COVID-19 vaccines at Aviano Air Base, Italy, Jan. 7, 2021. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized the vaccines by an Emergency Use Authorization on Dec. 18, 2020. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. K. Tucker Owen)
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Bernardino Sunglao, 31st Medical Support Squadron war reserve materiel non-commissioned officer in charge, left, carries a box of Moderna COVID-19 vaccines at Aviano Air Base, Italy, Jan. 7, 2021. Personnel from across the 31st Medical Group attended the vaccine’s highly anticipated arrival. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. K. Tucker Owen)
The 31st Fighter Wing received its first batch of Moderna COVID-19 vaccines on Jan. 7, with inoculations for first-tier recipients beginning Jan. 8.
The vaccine was granted emergency use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in prevention of the coronavirus disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).
“Because the vaccine has very specific storage requirements, our medical logistics team had to coordinate efforts with civilian shipping partners, the Office of the Command Surgeon (USAFE-AFAFRICA), host nation customs, and the Defense Logistics Agency,” said Maj. Allison James, 31st Medical Support Squadron medical logistics flight commander. “A specialized shipping container was utilized to maintain [the] temperature and integrity of the vaccines.”
Distribution for the vaccinations across the 31st FW has been divided into three categories, or phases – Phase 1, which includes health care providers, health care support, and emergency and safety personnel such as first responders; Phase 2, high risk populations; and Phase 3, the remaining, healthy population.
The first six recipients of the vaccine at Aviano received their inoculation Friday morning.
“I got the vaccine so I could help encourage my fellow wingmen who are hesitant about it to take care of themselves, and to take those first steps toward easing the lockdown restrictions,” said Senior Airman Victor Lopez, 31 Operational Medical Readiness Squadron flight medicine technician, one of the first Airmen to receive the vaccine.
Though the vaccine is voluntary, U.S. military leadership still recommends its use. Following inoculation, Department of Defense personnel will continue to follow all CDC guidelines, including the use of masks, until there is a significant decrease in risk of COVID-19 spread.
The health and safety of Wyvern Nation is and always will be a top priority for 31st FW leadership. For more information on when and how you may receive the vaccine, visit the Aviano website (https://www.aviano.af.mil/Site-Pages/COVID-19-Coronavirus/Covid-Vaccine-Distribution/).
For more information on the vaccine, including its creation and possible side effects, review the FDA fact sheet regarding the Moderna vaccine (https://www.fda.gov/media/144638/download).