USAG HUMPHREYS, Republic of Korea –
When United States Forces Korea began planning for the receipt of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in Dec. 2020, USFK followed the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations and the Department of Defense’s guidance which established a prioritized, phased distribution plan for inoculations of its affiliated community.
The first four groups to receive the vaccine include frontline health care workers, first responders, “Fight Tonight” mission critical and essential units, key leaders and command nodes, and TRICARE eligible beneficiaries aged 75 years and older.
Following the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s authorization on Feb. 27 of the one-dose Janssen vaccine, commonly referred to as Johnson & Johnson or J&J, USFK will begin to receive and administer the J&J COVID-19 vaccine to its affiliated community as another vaccine to further protect its bubble in the fight against the COVID-19 virus.
Similar to Moderna, the J&J vaccine is safe and effective for adults aged 18 years and older, and has a high efficacy in preventing severe disease, hospitalization and death following 28 days after receiving the J&J COVID-19 vaccine.
The addition of the J&J vaccine will enable USFK to begin its transition to the remaining three priority groups sooner than expected. The chain of command, supervisors and medical treatment facilities, among others, will advise the following individuals when they are scheduled to receive the vaccine.
The fifth group to receive the vaccine include DODEA, Child and Youth Services, AAFES and Commissary staff, public transit workers (bus drivers), and individuals working in high traffic areas and facilities including DFACs, Post Offices, Maude Hall, etc.
The sixth group of eligible individuals include TRICARE eligible beneficiaries aged 65 - 74 years and high risk individuals with pre-existing health conditions aged 18 - 64 years.
The final group will be all other eligible individuals not previously identified or who have not already been vaccinated.
Despite transitioning to subsequent groups, USFK will continue to offer the vaccine to all eligible individuals who belong to groups previously offered the vaccine, but are no longer in the current focused group. This policy will continue throughout the duration of USFK’s COVID-19 vaccine campaign.
While USFK has determined which individuals belong to specific groups, it is too early to predict when each group will begin to receive the vaccine. USFK’s COVID-19 vaccine program, like every other global U.S. military location, relies on an allocation of vaccines as determined by DOD. As production and availability of the vaccine increases, USFK expects to receive additional allocations of the vaccine beyond its normal rate to inoculate its affiliated community.
While the J&J vaccine is completely voluntary under the FDA’s emergency use authorization, USFK needs its affiliated community to strongly consider taking it. Along with USFK’s core tenets, mask wear, strict personal hygiene and maintaining physical distancing, taking the vaccine will enable USFK to continue its aggressive approach to killing the virus.
While news of USFK receiving the J&J vaccine is exceptional, everyone must remain vigilant, and adhere to USFK core tenets and HPCON measures, as well as ROK government and local directives, that have proven an effective mitigation measure against the spread of the virus.
USFK will continue to inform its community when it transitions to subsequent groups, and asks everyone remains patient and flexible until then.
We must protect the force to protect the mission.