Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. —
As the COVID-19 vaccine becomes increasingly available, the 87th Medical Group has been working around-the-clock to vaccinate the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst community.
The medical team has been administering the vaccine to both military and civilian personnel based on a priority list issued by the Department of Defense.
However, because of the high demand and limited supply of the vaccine, the medical team was inspired to create a two-step process that helps military personnel, civilian employees, contractors, dependents and military retirees receive the vaccine.
The first step is to determine if an individual is eligible to receive the vaccine. During a Jan. 28 town hall, U.S. Air Force Col. Scott Hughes, 87th Medical Group commander, answered frequently asked questions about the vaccine, including who is eligible to receive it on Joint Base MDL.
Hughes explained there are two categories for eligibility. The individual must be either (a) a TRICARE recipient living within 40 miles of Joint Base MDL or (b) a member of the Joint Base MDL workforce.
If an individual falls into one of these two categories, Hughes said they must then determine their priority group according to the DOD population schema:
- Phase 1A is for Joint Base MDL health care workers and first responders
- Phase 1B is for personnel preparing to deploy within 90 days; TRICARE beneficiaries or Joint Base MDL workforce members who are 75 and older; and frontline essential workers
- Phase 1C is for unit-determined mission essential employees; TRICARE beneficiaries or Joint Base MDL workforce members who are 65 and older; and individuals who are 16-64 and are at increased risk for severe illness as defined by the CDC
- Phase 2 is for all healthy eligible individuals 16 and older who do not fall into the above categories
As of Feb. 3, only Phase 1A and 1B priority groups are receiving the vaccine.
REGISTERING FOR THE VACCINE
Once an individual determines their eligibility and priority group, the second step is to register on Appointy to receive the vaccine. The Appointy website is designed to have the individual create a reservation that will add their name and contact information to a notification list. If an individual is in a priority group that is receiving the vaccine or falls in a higher priority group, the website will allow them to schedule an appointment with the medical team.
However, if someone is in a priority group that is not currently receiving the vaccine, it’s still important to register. U.S. Air Force Maj. Joshua Stallings, 87th Medical Group Diagnostics and Therapeutics Flight commander explained the medical team uses this list to notify individuals if a new priority group can receive the vaccine or if extra doses become available.
“We use the information from the website to verify eligibility and allocate doses,” said Stallings. “If someone does not use the website, we may not have a shot available for them.”
Registering on the website will guarantee vaccination once vaccines are available for the assigned priority group. Even if there are no initial doses available at that time, it is imperative members utilize the website to sign up for the waitlist.
“Signing up for the waitlist ensures they will be the first to know when we have shots available AND have appointment times for them to sign up for,” emphasized Stallings.
Once the individual receives notification from the medical teams that they are ready to receive the vaccine, they will report to the Joint Base MDL McGuire Fitness Center and verify that they belong to the current or a higher priority group. Once confirmed, they will receive the vaccine.
After receiving the first dose of the vaccine, the individual can then immediately return to the registration website to schedule their appointment for the second dose or schedule on-site.
Stallings said that this two-step process will not only help people understand when they can receive the vaccine, but also helps people keep up with the latest information regarding the vaccination process.
“People can stay informed by signing up on the [registration] site to receive information about when first doses will be available for their tier,” Stallings said. “Using this site and checking the 87 MDG Facebook page are the most effective ways to stay up to date on information.”
Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the Defense Health Agency to learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine.