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459th Airmen receive first round of COVID-19 vaccinations

Staff Sgt. Mark Simmons, 459th Air Refueling Squadron boom operator, receives a COVID-19 vaccine from Staff Sgt. Kevin Nemo, 459th Aerospace Medicine Squadron medical technician, Feb. 10th, 2021, at Joint Base Andrews, Md. Simmons was among the first group of Airmen to receive the vaccine in the wing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Cierra Presentado/Released)

Staff Sgt. Mark Simmons, 459th Air Refueling Squadron boom operator, receives a COVID-19 vaccine from Staff Sgt. Kevin Nemo, 459th Aerospace Medicine Squadron medical technician, Feb. 10th, 2021, at Joint Base Andrews, Md. Simmons was among the first group of Airmen to receive the vaccine in the wing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Cierra Presentado/Released)

Col. Janet Thode, 459th Air Refueling Wing vice wing commander, receives the COVID-19 vaccine from Staff Sgt. Kevin Nemo, 459th Aerospace Medicine Squadron medical technician Feb. 10th, 2021 at Joint Base Andrews, Md. The wing is now administering the vaccine to Airmen and DoD civilians. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Cierra Presentado/Released)

Col. Janette Thode, 459th Air Refueling Wing vice wing commander, receives the COVID-19 vaccine from Staff Sgt. Kevin Nemo, 459th Aerospace Medicine Squadron medical technician Feb. 10th, 2021 at Joint Base Andrews, Md. The wing is now administering the vaccine to Airmen and DoD civilians. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Cierra Presentado/Released)

Master Sgt. Alisha Henderson, 459th Command Post, receives the COVID-19 vaccine from Staff Sgt. Kevin Nemo, 459th Aerospace Medicine Squadron medical technician Feb. 10th, 2021, at Joint Base Andrews, Md. The wing is now administering the vaccine to Airmen and DoD civilians. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Cierra Presentado/Released)

Master Sgt. Alisha Henderson, 459th Command Post, receives the COVID-19 vaccine from Staff Sgt. Kevin Nemo, 459th Aerospace Medicine Squadron medical technician Feb. 10th, 2021, at Joint Base Andrews, Md. The wing is now administering the vaccine to Airmen and DoD civilians. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Cierra Presentado/Released)

JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. – Airmen from the 459th Air Refueling Wing recently received the first round of COVID-19 vaccinations offered to military members as part of the whole-nation response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Department of Defense is implementing a standardized and coordinated strategy for prioritizing, distributing, and administering a COVID-19 vaccine(s) through a phased approach to DoD uniformed service members, both active and Selected Reserve components including dependents, retirees, civilian employees and selected DoD contract personnel as authorized in accordance with DoD regulation.

“So far 104 of our members have taken advantage of getting the vaccine,” said Maj. Renee Swift, 459th Aerospace Medicine Squadron. “Right now we are giving members the opportunity to get the vaccine over the unit training assembly. However, if members choose to get vaccinated by their civilian providers, they just need to provide us with documentation.”

At this time, all 459th Airmen, Air Guard Reservists and DoD civilians are able to get the vaccine based on the prioritization schema.

The wing continues to take precautionary measures to ensure the safety of the members.

“We are still conducting risk assessments, assisting with contact tracing, and developing the wing policy on the vaccination program,” Swift said. “We are hoping to have everyone who wants the vaccine vaccinated by June.”

Members are encouraged to do their research to make the best decision for themselves and their family members.

“It’s a personal decision. The vaccine isn’t mandatory at this time, but taking the time to learn about it so that you make an informed decision is important,” Swift said.

Members interested in receiving the vaccine through the wing should contact their military provider.

“I very much appreciate the efforts and expertise of our 459th medical teams to effectively distribute the vaccine over the UTA,” said Col. Janette Thode, 459th ARW vice wing commander. “The vaccine is a critical aspect along with our safety protocols to help stop the pandemic, protect our Airmen and their families, and ensure continued mission readiness.”