By Airman 1st Class Rebeckah Medeiros, 18th Wing
/ Published February 11, 2021
Tech. Sgt. Defabian Johnson, a pharmacy technician from the 18th Medical Support Squadron, fills a syringe with the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in preparation for the receiving patient, Jan. 29, 2021, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. As part of the DoD strategy for prioritizing, distributing and administering the COVID-19 vaccine, those providing direct medical care and emergency services will be prioritized to receive the vaccine at units based in Japan, including Kadena AB. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rebeckah Medeiros)
Kathryn Cleffi, a registered dietician from the 18th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron sits patiently waiting for the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, Jan. 29, 2021, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. As part of the DoD strategy for prioritizing, distributing and administering the COVID-19 vaccine, those providing direct medical care and emergency services will be prioritized to receive the vaccine at units based in Japan, including Kadena AB. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rebeckah Medeiros)
Tech. Sgt. Maryphille Sandoval, a pharmacy technician from the 18th Medical Support Squadron, fills a syringe with the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, Jan. 29, 2021, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. As part of the DoD strategy for prioritizing, distributing and administering the COVID-19 vaccine, those providing direct medical care and emergency services will be prioritized to receive the vaccine at units based in Japan, including Kadena AB. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rebeckah Medeiros)
Red Cross volunteers and paramedics administer the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Team Kadena’s first-line defenders, Jan. 29, 2021, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. The COVID-19 vaccination plan is phase-driven and designed to safely protect members within the DoD as quickly as possible. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rebeckah Medeiros)
As vaccinations for COVID-19 are being introduced around the world, more and more individuals are getting the opportunity to be vaccinated against the virus. Kadena Air Base medical staff are now administering the second dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine across the base for eligible personnel who have already received the first dose.
For those choosing to be vaccinated, the process is quite simple here. In less than 30 minutes, individuals can contribute to curving the spread of the virus.
Eligible members begin at a screening station and fill out the necessary paperwork before moving to an admin station to review and confirm their personal information and receive their vaccination record card. After individuals are provided with information about the vaccine and their questions are answered, the vaccine is administered. Lastly, there is a 15-minute observation period to ensure the safety of the recipient and, if there are no issues, they are able to resume their day as normal.
The COVID-19 vaccine contains a blue print of the SARS CoV-2 “spike protein,” allowing the immune system to produce antibodies, thus protecting against future infections. The Moderna vaccine is a two-dose plan and has an approximate 95% efficacy rate. Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidance regarding timing of the second dose stating it can be administered anywhere from 28 to 42 days after the first dose.
“After reading about the vaccine, I knew I was not going to feel well, (due to potential side effects after receiving the doses) but I know that’s okay; that’s just my body’s immune system doing what it’s supposed to be doing,” said Senior Airman Patrick O’Hara, vaccination recipient and administrator. “I didn’t really have any fears. I think that if you don’t read about it, it’s easy to have that feeling of unease because you just don’t know what to expect.”
While attaching the name “COVID” to anything right now can be intimidating and even scary for some, simply doing research and evaluating credible and reputable sources such as medical literature can help alleviate concerns and hesitancies.
“I read the Moderna clinical trial and I don’t want to say I was skeptical at first, but I wanted to inform myself of the data. I realized it was safe and, in the midst of the pandemic, the best thing I can do is get vaccinated,” O’Hara explained. “I think it’s really easy to get scared based off of general concern in the masses when really, if you do the proper education, when you read the right things, then you can see it’s totally safe and worth it.”
Many individuals are becoming more confident about getting the voluntary vaccine under the emergency use authorization and are motivated to not only protect themselves, but their family and friends as well. Getting vaccinated brings them hope for a return to normalcy in the future.
For some, the motivation to get vaccinated is more personal than for others.
Maj. Rozel Farnell, mother of infant twins, initially had uncertainties about the vaccination, but—with no adverse effects being presented by research—decided to move forward with receiving it.
“I think with more people taking it and then less instances of actual adverse effects occurring has helped people decide whether they want to get it or not when they are eligible,” she explained. “I decided to get it because I’d rather be vaccinated than inadvertently spread it to my kids.”
Even though making the decision to protect her babies was an obvious choice for her, Farnell feels every individual needs to do their own research and weigh the risks and benefits for their circumstances.
For Col. Jay Veeder, vaccine recipient and 18th Medical Group commander, choosing to be vaccinated was a two-fold decision for him.
As a husband and father of three, protecting his family and those they’re surrounded by weighed heavily in his decision.
“One of my sons works at the school age care program as a provider there, so he’s around kids all day long, and my wife briefs people in her job, and so I always look at the people who I come into contact with and who I’m going to be in close contact with without my mask … the thought of me getting any of those people sick – I just feel like my conscience just doesn’t allow that, so that’s a lot of my motivation,” he explained.
Veeder sees every individual in the community as part of a chain – every person connects to another person, thus linking everyone together and connecting pathways in some manner.
“If we don’t get vaccinated, that chain is going to touch somebody who this virus can hurt or kill, so it’s the whole idea to get to where enough people have (immunity) so that it cannot hop from person to person to person, and so it stops,” he said. “Being a medical person, I tend to focus on the idea that if I unwittingly pass it to somebody and it puts them in the hospital, I didn’t do my part. So it’s absolutely about trying to look out for the people around me.”
With an emphasis on community well-being and taking care of one another, Wing leadership and medical personnel are hopeful that as more people become educated about the vaccine, more will take the opportunity to receive it once it’s available to them.
"For the majority of this past year the messaging about COVID has really been about fear, hesitancy, questions, the unknown and just doing whatever we can to prevent it,” said Col. Kevin Hettinger, Kadena’s public health emergency officer. “I’m optimistic and hopeful that people will take the vaccine because that’s how we protect our communities. Vaccines on the shelf help no one – it only helps when it’s in the arms of our Airmen.”
For more information regarding the Moderna vaccine, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website: https://www.cdc.gov/.