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Added: Rodric Douse - Date: 14.12.2021 16:46 - Views: 23925 - Clicks: 6843

Thank you, everybody, for -- for being here and thank you for those who are on the phone this morning. As we promised about two weeks ago, that we would be giving you regular updates on our COVID response and -- and vaccine distribution plans, that's what we're here to do today. As many of you know, the Department of Defense has long been planning a phased, standardized, and coordinated strategy for prioritizing, distributing and administering COVID vaccines to protect our people, maintain readiness, and support the national COVID response. We're going to cover five specific pieces of information that are of importance to the force and the public -- the size of the initial DOD allocation, the prioritization schema for the populations who receive the vaccine first, our priority plan phases for the distribution, the locations of the initial vaccine distributions and the general allocations, and the timeline for initial distribution and next phases of the distribution and vaccinations.

We have a lot of information to share. We've provided you all with the slides in advance, as well as our press release. There should be useful documents to follow along with. I will note that a lot of work has gone into planning in the -- of the distribution of this vaccine, which in itself is a remarkable feat. I ask that as each of you shares this information, keep in mind that our goal is to be transparent with the force about what is happening and to encourage our personnel to use the vaccine.

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We are fortunate that DOD has weathered the COVID storm better than most and Lrmc looking for moments nsa is reflected in our allocation and how we are prioritization -- prioritizing our initial doses. We look forward to being able to help the country get through the coming weeks and months as the vaccine is distributed and becomes more prevalent in our communities. And good morning, everybody. And we appreciate the opportunity to highlight the department's plan for the delivery of COVID vaccine.

The department's priorities, as you know, are protecting our service members, our civilian employees and families, safeguarding our national security capabilities, and supporting the whole of government response to the COVID pandemic.

As such, and as we'll outline today, our plan will provide the COVID vaccine to DOD uniformed service members, both active and selective reserve components, including members of the National Guard, dependents, retirees, civilian employees and select DOD contract personnel, as authorized in accordance with DOD policy on this topic.

I am extremely confident the department's plan, developed in collaboration with Operation Warp Speed and the CDC, provides a very clear road map to protect our entire DOD population across the globe against the pandemic. Vaccination distribution prioritization with DOD will be consistent with data-driven CDC guidance for national prioritization. In the coming days, we expect the department to receive its first allotment of the vaccine.

Initial phases of the DOD distribution and administration plan are based on the expected limited of initial vaccine doses allocated by Health and Human Services and the CDC to DOD, and on the department's need to rapidly validate our processes to support increased distribution as vaccine production increases. At this time, DOD is expected to receive just under 44, doses of the Pfizer vaccine as early as next week for immediate use.

DOD's plan for distributing this vaccine includes monitoring processes to inform senior leader decisions about distribution capacity, increased distribution at administration locations, and our force health protection. Our deliberate and phased approach to distribute and administer this first allotment and future allocations of the COVID vaccine will focus on vaccinating priority populations quickly and safely, while simultaneously refining the intricate planning for the delivery of larger volumes of vaccine in future waves.

The DOD prioritization plan is consistent with CDC guidance and prioritizes health care providers and support personnel, residents and staff of DOD long term care facilities, other essential workers and high risk beneficiaries to receive the vaccine before other members of the healthy DOD population. As mentioned, the DOD plan calls for a phased approach. The initial phase is what we are calling a controlled pilot. In this phase, we will be distributing the vaccine to priority populations in 16 distinct locations. We will monitor the uptake and make adjustments to our plans going forward as necessary and as lessons learn from this controlled pilot.

We will continue with this form of distribution, adding additional prioritized personnel in additional prioritized locations until 60 percent of our DOD roughly 11 million personnel have received the vaccine, at which time DOD anticipates vaccine manufacturing rates to support full scale, unrestricted vaccine distribution to department personnel.

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At that point, our intent is to distribute the vaccine in the same manner the department conducts its annual influenza vaccine program. If you look at some of the slides we provided, the department selected initial vaccine distribution sites to best support several criteria. one, the anticipated unique supply chain requirements for the initial approved vaccines, a sizable local DOD population with priority personnel across all of the military services and sufficient medical personnel to administer the vaccines and monitor recipients after initial and second dose administration.

In a recent virtual tabletop exercise led by deputy secretary of defense and senior civilian and military leaders, the DOD COVID Task Force and the leaders responsible for the first phase of the plan walked through the processes in great detail to ensure seamless distribution and dissemination of this initial wave of vaccine across our selected sites. The lessons learned from this exercise helps solidify the department's plan on the way forward. I want to personally thank the men and women across the department who have spent countless hours, both day and night, supporting the development of this plan.

The preparation for the vaccine of million -- of millions of individuals across the department in the coming weeks and months will protect our force against COVID and allow us to continue to fill -- fulfill our mission to the nation.

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Our country and our forces should be assured that the Department of Defense is ready to execute a global COVID vaccination plan for our service members, as well as military families, retirees, and certain government civilian and contractor staff. Following approval by the Food and Drug Administration and guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Defense Health Agency will lead a department-wide, phased effort to distribute and administer the vaccine. While we await final approval from the FDA, the preliminary data on the safety and effectiveness of the two vaccine candidates is highly encouraging.

We're recommending that everyone take the vaccine when it becomes available to protect yourselves, your families, your shipmates, your wingmen, your battle buddies, and your communities. As with most vaccines, some people may experience small adverse effects: arm soreness, fatigue, even a fever. The department will be fully transparent about any adverse effects that are reported and share this information with the CDC.

Now, as Honorable McCaffery mentioned, as we begin our vaccination process, the department specifically chose 16 locations, 13 in the United States and three abroad. We selected these locations based on our desire to validate our plan. As such, we chose locations with extra cold-storage capability, sizable local populations to vaccinate and medical staff large enough to administer it. We chose locations from each of the military services, including active and reserve components, along with the United States Coast Guard.

Finally, we chose locations with an on-site immunization health specialist. As Mr. McCaffery noted, the good news is that our military medical teams have worked for months to prepare for this moment, and we're eager to begin to deliver on Operation Warp Speed's promise. The Department of Defense has decades of experience with conducting global vaccine programs. Whether it's the annual flu campaigns or protection against novel diseases around the world, we vaccinate millions of our service members and families and retirees of every age every year, and we have systems in place to monitor the health of everyone who receives a vaccine.

In terms of the next steps following FDA approval, the department will receive and begin vaccinations of our high-priority populations this month. We've identified the military installations and the military treatment facilities that will receive the initial shipments of the approved vaccines, as Mr.

McCaffery noted. We have initiated within our staff training protocols for vaccine administration, and we're working closely with our TRICARE network providers and pharmacies to prepare for wider-scale vaccinations as the vaccine supply expands. This phased approach to vaccination will take time. We recommend that everyone continue to follow the latest CDC guidelines, to include physical distancing, handwashing and wearing face coverings where appropriate. This has been a challenging year for all Americans, and I'm inspired by the perseverance and commitment of the men and women of the department and the military health system.

Together, we're working as a team to protect all entrusted to our care.

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Thank you. We'll go to the phones. I don't know if -- if Lita jumped on, from AP. From AP? Q: I think my question is for the general. I wanted to ask about the medical side of this, sir. Could you explain as much as you can about what part of this vaccination program will be voluntary? What part will be mandatory? Just as much detail as you can, and especially for high priorityfor deploying units, for senior leaders.

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Can you walk us through some of that? We anticipate that this will be approved using Emergency Use Authorization, not a fully-d FDA vaccination, and as such, the department's policy will be voluntary for everyone. So there's no if, ands, or buts about it -- doesn't -- doesn't matter. Voluntary for everyone. Q: So does the -- I -- I just don't know how this will work. So it starts with Emergency Use Authorization.

The vaccination is voluntary for everyone, including deploying units, including high-priority units. Does it eventually in some way shift to mandatory, once there's full FDA licensure? And how will that, on a practical level, work, for example, for Special Operations forces, small units, strategic units deploying as -- on a team level if some people don't get it, don't -- don't take the vaccine?

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The department is strongly encouraging everyone to take it, and the reason for that -- if you look at the data that are available to all of us now, that -- that Pfizer at least, the one vendor has made available to everyone, if you look at the safety profile of it, the safety profile is very good and the efficacy of the vaccine, again, short time period, appears to be very good. So in a risk stratification, my advice as a physician is that if -- everything we do in life, every medication that we take, every surgical procedure that we have is all about risk.

And the risk of this -- or these vaccines, from what we know, is much less than the risk of the actual disease process. So our -- our advice to everyone -- volunteer basis. Our advice to everyone is to take the vaccine, just based on risk.

It's typically on a voluntary basis, so we're going to be consistent with that. As it moves, as FDA looks at the experience of the vaccine, you know, a real of experience that we're seeing in the population, and they ultimately -- assuming they ultimately grant full licensure, at that point the department would look at that and based upon, again, risks and benefits and look at unique requirements from the military departments, from the combatant commands, would make a determination if we believe for military readiness we should consider, you know, making a fully d COVID vaccine mandatory.

But there's a process we use based upon data, based upon the FDA's assessment.

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The ‘Nova nexus