EL CENTRO — Sailors and select Department of Defense (DoD) support staff received the second round of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at Naval Air Facility (NAF) EL Centro, March 25.
The second round of shots follows NAF El Centro’s initial vaccinations, which started on March 4.
“In two weeks, most of the base workforce will have immunity against COVID-19,” said Lieutenant Nicholas Blonien, flight surgeon, NAF El Centro. “That is a profound achievement relative to other immunization rates across the Country and DoD, and it significantly increases our NAFEC community’s safety near term.”
The Pfizer vaccine shows a 95 percent efficacy in preventing COVID-19 disease in adults when both doses of the vaccine are taken 21 days apart between the first and second dose.
“People react different to the vaccine,” said Hospitalman Freddy Contreraslubo, assigned to Naval Medical Center San Diego. “The reactions to the second vaccination can be more severe than the initial shot, with common symptoms like fatigue, slight swelling at the injection sight, and a low-grade fever.”
Due to the emergency authorization, the COVID-19 vaccine — while encouraged — remains voluntary for service members. The DoD is taking a prioritized, phased approach for administering the vaccine to volunteers, to strengthen the DoD’s ability to protect personnel, maintain mission readiness, and support the national COVID-19 response.
“Volunteering for this vaccine cannot be underestimated as we are in a race against time to knock down community transmission before new virus mutations become possible,” said Commander Carl Liptak, executive officer, NAF El Centro. “Getting vaccinated contributes to our ability to support the warfighter in the near term and contributes to the global effort to defeat new transmissions in the long term.”
The distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine follows protocols established by prior influenza vaccine seasons. The administration of the vaccine is coordinated by Military Treatment Facilities (MTF) and all supported Navy units, including NAF El Centro, to ensure operational readiness is maintained and the vaccine is administered when available.
“Getting vaccinated helps to give everyone confidence that we are in a safe environment,” said Master-at-Arms Seaman Sarah Alejandro, assigned to NAF El Centro. “We don’t need to be stressed about transmission and now we can imagine a life in the near future without social distance and masks.”
As sailors receive the vaccine, masks and physical distancing continue to be necessary until the vaccine is proven to provide long-term protection. Global and national public health authorities are expected to continue to recommend wearing masks and practicing physical distancing, for everyone, until the risk of COVID-19 is substantially reduced.
“On this smaller installation, we were fortunate to have the opportunity to educate sailors on the benefits and safety of vaccination on a more personal level,” said Blonien. “I think this ultimately translated to sound decision-making on their part, which gets us one step closer to the end of this pandemic.”