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Maj. Elizabeth E. Patricola, from Fox Army Health Center, receives her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine administered by Tamiris Centeno, a public health nurse at Fox.

Fox Army Health Center began vaccinating healthcare workers and first responders for COVID-19 on Monday. It’s the first of many doses to be distributed on post.

According to Fox Army Health Center Commander Col. Roberto Cardenas, the center is following the Department of Defense’s COVID vaccination distribution plan.

He said it’s a phased approach for prioritizing, distributing and administering the vaccination to all active duty, Reserve, National Guard, as well as all mission-essential Army civilian employees and other personnel performing mission essential functions, including healthcare, emergency services personnel and critical support.

That plan includes a tiered system that identifies when people are eligible to receive the vaccine.

Overall there are three phases, and a total of eight tiers. Phase 1a includes healthcare providers, first responders and support personnel supporting those efforts.

Phase 1b includes personnel preparing to deploy outside of the U.S. and other essential workers. Phase 2 includes high-risk beneficiaries and Phase 3 is when healthy members of the population can start getting vaccinated.

Cardenas said the plan follows the Centers for Disease Control recommendations for prioritization.

“If anyone has any questions they should check with their leadership or they should check with us and we can help them find that information on the CDC’s website,” Cardenas said.

A breakdown of the current CDC recommendations can be found at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/recommendations.html.

He added messaging would continue to be distributed and updated as the process continues, more information is collected and more doses become available.

Right now he said Fox is working on developing an appointment system that is predictable, efficient and fair to all of Fox’s beneficiaries.

“We will advertise steps on our website for beneficiaries to make appointments and there will be a map telling people how to access the clinic and where to go within the clinic to receive the vaccine.”

The Fox website is https://redstone.tricare.mil.

When a beneficiary does receive the vaccine at Fox, they’ll receive a CDC vaccination card, along with other information, that will tell them which vaccination they received and when they should return for the second dose and provide them with a guaranteed appointment.

Currently there are two vaccines that have the FDA’s emergency use authorization.

One is the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and the interval is 21 days between the first and second dose.

The other is the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and the interval is 28 days between the first and second dose.

As the rollout of the vaccine continues, everyone is still being encouraged to follow the CDC guidelines on wearing masks, washing hands and maintaining social distancing.

“As you can imagine, the mission analysis is ongoing at the highest levels of the Department of Defense and the Department of the Army and as changes come up, we’ll be leveraging all of the public affair resources at Redstone to get the messaging out.” Cardenas said.

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