OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. --
The 557th Weather Wing commander and command chief were vaccinated for COVID-19 at the Airman Leadership School here Jan. 11.
The vaccinations are part of a phased plan the 55th Medical Group COVID Cell began administering to Team Offutt on Jan. 6.
Offutt AFB received the vaccine as part of Operation Warp Speed, which is a national initiative to safely vaccinate the American public.
“It’s a tremendous relief to start rolling out the vaccine,” said Maj. (Dr.) Elaina Wild, Offutt Public Health Emergency Officer. “It’s going to make a very significant change to the way we respond to COVID-19 over 2021. The faster we can get it in arms, the better [the response] is going to be and the quicker we can get back to a new normal.”
Offutt is using a phased approach to vaccinate personnel.
In Phase 1, health care workers and first responders will be vaccinated followed by those who support critical national capabilities or who are scheduled to deploy. Phase 2 will include high-risk beneficiaries while Phase 3 will vaccinate the remaining population considered healthy.
Col. Patrick Williams, 557th WW commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Kevin Paul, 557th WW command chief, led by example and received the vaccine to help reinforce its safety, calm concerns, and do their part in helping to put an end to the pandemic.
“The health and safety of our Airmen is at the forefront of my thoughts,” Williams said. “I got my vaccine so that no one has to worry about me carrying and spreading this disease.”
“This shot will cause my body to develop an immune response so I don’t get COVID,” he added.
Paul said it is normal to experience mild side effects from the COVID vaccine similar to that of a flu shot or other vaccines.
“When you get your shot you’re probably going to experience some minor symptoms,” he said. “That is just a sign that the vaccine is working.”
Offutt members should still get the vaccine if they had COVID-19 as immunity is only expected to last for 90 days.
As a reminder, personnel should continue to wear a mask and social distance even after they receive the vaccine as they will still be susceptible to contracting the virus with milder symptoms that could be contagious.
557th WW personnel should expect to receive notifications from their chain of command as the vaccine becomes available based on their priority in the phased vaccination plan.
“Team 557, this is a way for us to accomplish the mission,” Paul said. “By getting the vaccine and stopping the virus in its tracks, we can get back to normal.”