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Ellsworth administering COVID vaccines

Senior Airman Brittney Fitschen, 28th Health Care Operations Squadron family health technician, administers a COVID-19 vaccine to Lt. Col. David Herndon, 28th Security Forces Squadron commander, at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Jan. 15, 2021.

Senior Airman Brittney Fitschen, 28th Health Care Operations Squadron family health technician, administers a COVID-19 vaccine to Lt. Col. David Herndon, 28th Security Forces Squadron commander, at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Jan. 15, 2021. First responders, medical staff, deploying forces and others essential to maintaining national security and installation functions are among the first to receive the vaccine, in line with the Department of Defense's vaccine distribution and administration plan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Austin McIntosh)

ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. --

Immunization specialists from the 28th Medical Group began administering the first batch of the COVID-19 vaccinations to Ellsworth Airmen earlier this month and are continuing to administer initial and future allocations in a deliberate and phased approach according to the Department of Defense phasing structure.

Medical staff, first responders, deploying forces and others essential to maintaining national security and installation functions are among the first to receive the vaccine, in line with the Department of Defense's vaccine distribution and administration plan. The plan is a phased, standardized and coordinated strategy for prioritizing, distributing, and administering COVID-19 vaccines to protect people, maintain readiness, and support the national COVID-19 response.

"The vaccinations are a key part of our efforts to reduce risk and help ensure our Airmen, families, coworkers and neighbors stay healthy, and are able to continue to accomplish our mission, " said Col. David Doss, 28th Bomb Wing Commander.

Col. Robert Corby, 28th MDG commander, said the base’s COVID-19 vaccination program is working well, thanks in large part to the support of multiple agencies teaming up to accomplish tasks.

“I greatly appreciate the tremendous support we have received in helping us administer the vaccinations in a safe, effective and efficient manner,” Corby said. “An operation of this scale requires a lot of work, a lot of people and a huge amount of coordination. With everyone working together we have been able to rapidly distribute the vaccines as they are received.”

While the vaccinations represent a big step in the war on COVID-19, personnel assigned to Ellsworth will continue to wear appropriate masks, practice physical distancing, wash hands, and follow the guidelines of the general restriction order while everyone is being offered the opportunity for the vaccine.

"As cases continue to decline and more and more people take the vaccine, the overall COVID risk lessens. If conditions continue to improve, we will carefully and methodically ease restrictions for the base," Doss said. "That's why it is so important for everyone to do their part."

Additional information on the COVID-19 vaccine, including its development, possible side effects and what to expect after receiving the vaccine can be found on the CDC website at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/faq.html.

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