The light at the end of the tunnel grows a little brighter, as Fort Belvoir Community Hospital’s COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic, at the Fort Belvoir Community Center, has begun vaccinations for TRICARE patients 75 years and older, according to Cmdr. Gabrielle Crane, chief of Ambulatory Nursing.

Crane said that the clinic is following DoD eligibility guidance and is now in Phase 1b. The COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic has immunized hospital staff and first responders, and has shifted access to personnel with Critical National Capabilities; personnel preparing to deploy to locations outside the United States; and authorized persons 75 years and older.

Crane said the clinic’s administration of vaccines is expected to increase, as availability increases, and there are plans to administer vaccinations in Fairfax and Dumfries, but those dates aren’t yet known.

“We are currently vaccinating 400-500 patients daily, and will be increasing that to 1,000 upon allocation of vaccine supply,” said Crane.

“I want to help separate myth from reality, especially the myth that COVID vaccines were developed too quickly, and thus their quality is poor,” said Col. Jennifer McDannald, director, Army Public Health Center. “The reality is the vaccines were developed without compromising safety, scientific rigor, or medical and scientific ethics. They are safe and very effective. This type of vaccine is not new. Researchers have been studying and working with messenger RNA vaccines for decades. This research enabled quick development of the COVID-19 vaccine.”

Lt. Gen. Douglas Gabram, commander, IMCOM, visiting Fort Belvoir Feb. 9, urged everyone to consider vaccination. “We have a (vaccine) declination rate of 18 to 20 percent, and that’s going down,” Gabram said. “You should educate yourself and learn the facts. If you asked me, I’d say ‘get the vaccine’. We’ll get more vaccines rolling out, and then the workforce scale’s going to increase.”

The largest category of recipients will come next in Phase 1c, and includes those authorized age 65-74 and authorized aged 16-64 with increased risk for severe illness as defined by the CDC and essential workers not previously included in 1a and 1b. Crane asked them to have a bit of patience as the clinic vaccinates those at greatest risk of severe disease.

“Please know we look forward to scheduling and vaccinating all of our beneficiaries as soon as supply allows. We appreciate you trusting in us and allowing us to provide the best care possible and doing all we can to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

For the latest information, go to https://belvoirhospital.tricare.mil/Health-Services/Preventive-Care/COVID-19-Vaccine or contact the COVID-19 Vaccine Information Hotline at 571-231-7777 or DHA-IHD at 1-877-GET-VACC or via e-mail at DoDvaccines@mail.mil.