Fort Belvoir Community Hospital moved its COVID vaccination clinic across the street to the Community Center last week, to provide a better, more centralized location, according to Navy Lt. Antoinette Mantz, the Officer in Charge of the program.
“We are currently completing second doses for our healthcare personnel, which is still DoD phase 1A personnel. That also includes our Garrison first responders, including fire fighters, police officers and others,” Mantz said. “We are completing second doses for those in the 1A category, and we have entered just into a bit of 1B, as we are just starting vaccinations for those in Critical National Capabilities.”
“That initial drive-up portion is just for a COVID-19 screening, as well as providing paperwork and checking eligibility. You’ll receive your shot inside but we are looking at reducing the amount of time spent indoors, by having folks fill out their paperwork in their own vehicle, which lets us limit the time indoors and reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.”
The patient flow on the second day of operation in the new location seemed unrushed and smooth, with patients waiting at the stairs, and then directed to a desk, where a medic or corpsman is handed the recipient’s paperwork, and a pre-filled syringe. Once the patient’s identity is confirmed, the vaccine is injected, and they grab a chair in the waiting station, to see if any adverse reactions develop. After 15 minutes with no reaction, the patient is free to go.
Navy Hospitalman Daniela Ortiz said it’s satisfying to play a part in such a monumental effort to return the nation to normalcy later this year.
“I think it’s really special. This has been something that affects the country, so to be able to be a part of the team that’s helping make a difference is really cool,” said Ortiz.
A safe route to move forward
Mantz explained that Fort Belvoir has been issued the Pfizer vaccine, which was approved by the Federal Drug Administration under an Emergency Use Authorization, which is a precursor to the vaccine’s full licensure.
“What we know is that these vaccines have completed Phase 3 trials, which means they are safe and they are effective. They have gone through the same safety and efficacy testing that any vaccine created in the past has gone through,” Mantz said.
This is a massive undertaking, to immunize so many Americans that the virus has difficulty spreading to a new host. Experts at the CDC do not yet know what percentage of people need to get vaccinated to achieve herd immunity to COVID-19, which is when enough people in a community are protected from getting a disease because they’ve already had the disease or they’ve been vaccinated. Anthony Fauci, MD, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has stated that more than three quarters of the population needs immunity before we can fully return to a pre-pandemic lifestyle.
“We need that to squash this pandemic,” Mantz said. “I think one of the important things to remember is that you’re not just getting vaccinated for yourself, but you’re also getting a vaccine to protect others who cannot potentially receive the vaccine, such as children or those with allergies, or other issues. When you get the vaccine and reduce the prevalence of the virus in the community, you’re not only helping yourself, but helping others.”
Community Hospital COVID-19 Vaccination Hotline: 571-231-7777