JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. —
A limited supply of the COVID-19 vaccine arrived to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, Dec. 31, 2020 with members on the installation receiving the shot a few hours after arrival. For Joint Base MDL, it is the next step to neutralizing the virus.
To date, there has been over 20 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 with over 350,000 losing their lives to the virus. With a new hope in the vaccine, Joint Base MDL plans to help the nation stop the spread of the virus.
“It’s us finally going on the offensive against COVID. From day one of receiving the vaccine, we are already giving it out to members on the installation,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Alexander Godwin, 87th Medical Support Squadron pharmacist and Point of Distribution chief. “We want to work with a sense of urgency to get the vaccine out as quickly as possible.”
U.S. Air Force Maj. Dayla Gillispie, 87th Medical Group Family Health Clinic flight commander, was the first individual to receive the vaccine on Joint Base MDL.
“I’m super honored and super excited to be a part of this moment. It’s amazing,” said Gillispie. “This is us moving forward in the right direction to eliminate this virus.”
In accordance with the Department of Defense vaccination plan, the 87th MDG prioritized medical care providers, emergency services, safety personnel, and deploying forces to receive the vaccine before other members of the DoD population.
“We will utilize the chain of command or will reach out to individuals directly to notify them when it’s their time to get the vaccine,” said Godwin. “The more people that we get vaccinated, we will be able to build an immunity where we can get rid of the virus faster.”
This moment has allowed medics to stand out and shine during adverse times.
“I am proud of our medical team who worked tirelessly in 2020 to develop rapid COVID testing capabilities, and now high volume vaccination capabilities, all while ensuring the wellness of our community and keeping our units mission ready,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Charles Hughes, 87th MDG commander. “I voluntarily rolled up my sleeve today because I am confident in the safety and effectiveness of this vaccine, and because I want to protect my family, co-workers and community.”
For U.S. Air Force Maj. Connor McKeown, 87th MDG chief of medical staff, and U.S. Air Force Maj. Reni Angelova, 87th MDG chief administrator, they believe the vaccine is a significant win for the scientific and medical communities.
“This is a huge accomplishment in the ability to produce this vaccine in a few months of discovering this virus,” said McKeown. “People were and are nervous because this was developed so quickly. But if you read the studies, no corners were cut and it is very safe with a 95 percent effectiveness.”
“It is a groundbreaking event for humanity going forward and I think it is the best present we could receive for 2021,” said Angelova. “It is not the first time we have gone through a pandemic and we have conquered this before and I believe this vaccine will get us back to normal.”