SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Wednesday, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III issued this memo to military leadership announcing mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for all Department of Defense service members.
The memo directs Secretaries of the Military Departments to begin full vaccination of active duty service members, and those in the Ready Reserve, including the National Guard.
This comes after consultations with medical experts and military leadership, and with support from the president, according to the memo.
In San Diego County, to rapidly vaccinate remaining marines and sailors, shots could Acbe given on the pier in San Diego and out in the field for marines at Camp Pendleton. Vaccinations will also be given at military hospitals and clinics, like Naval Medical Center San Diego (NMCSD) and Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton.
"We are prepared to execute up to 7,000 shots daily with in the San Diego DHA market," said a spokesperson for NMCSD.
Cmdr. Chris Lopez, a spokesman for Naval Medical Forces Pacific, said mass vaccinations are required frequently and they have confidence they'll be able to administer the doses quickly.
We received the Secretary of Defense’s memorandum early this morning and are ready to rapidly vaccinate the remaining Sailors and Marines in the area. We will use shot exercises on the pier in San Diego and out in the field for the Marines at Camp Pendleton as well as our local military hospitals and clinics to do this. The Navy is rapidly coordinating execution guidance, which will provide additional details on how and when we will implement our efforts. The Department requires many vaccines for its Service members and executes on these mass vaccination requirements frequently, so we are confident in our ability to quickly administer the vaccines. Additionally, service members do not need to wait until plans are solidified. Within the San Diego Defense Health Agency market, they can visit any of our Medical Treatment Facilities (MTFs) and branch clinics today and get vaccinated. They can also get the vaccine administered by a non-DoD provider out in the community. However, they will need to show proof of vaccination so that it may be entered into their medical record.
This all comes after Pfizer received full FDA approval of its COVID-19 vaccine this week.
"It's pretty much part of standard operating procedures," said GI Wilson, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran. Wilson said requiring vaccinations is common in the military, and necessary to protect those working closely together and their families.
"In my 30 plus years in the military we received countless vaccines, everything from yellow fever to anthrax," he said. "I don’t see this as a departure from what the military has done for at least decades."
Army veteran Gene James agrees, adding that in his military career, he only saw a few cases of push back when it came to required flu shots.
"When they were explained the ramifications of not getting that shot, separation from the military was one of those ramifications they opted to just go ahead and get the flu shot," he explained. "I'm a believer in vaccines, colonel Wilson and I are the product of a generation that was saved as a result of the polio vaccine."
As of Wednesday, the Department of Defense reported that 1,095,376 service members from all military branches were already fully vaccinated, while 247,291 were partially vaccinated.