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NEWS | Sept. 10, 2021

Australian general joins Soldiers, civilians at 'Desert Medic’ vaccine rodeo

By Sgt. Andrew Peck 3rd Medical Command (Deployment Support)

U.S. Army Central Command’s deputy commanding general for operations received his second Moderna COVID-19 vaccine dose during a visit to 3rd Medical Command’s Operation Med Spear vaccine event here, Aug. 16.

"Third Medical Command personnel are outstanding professional Soldiers looking after people, caring for people, dealing with people in a professional manner—I could not be more impressed with the command," said Australian Army Maj. Gen. Christopher A. Field, Army Central's deputy commanding general for operations.

Field said is it vital for all Soldiers and civilian personnel to take advantage of the opportunity to become vaccinated.

"The vaccine is important to keep our force safe," he said. "We look after our mates. We look after each other, and we look after our families."

The member of the Order of Australia did not say he enjoyed getting shots, but for him, it is part of being a soldier.

“I’ve been in the military for more than 30 years. I’ve been vaccinated many times. For me, this is part of my service," he said. "The vaccine was applied to me 15 minutes ago—and I feel fine."

The officer in charge of the vaccination event, Army Reserve Col. Arlene Lucky, said she had to manage the coordination involved in setting up the rodeo.

“I think the biggest challenge in putting together this rodeo is getting together with all the major commands and just putting out the expectations and making sure we have enough manpower to execute the mission,” said Lucky, who is also the chief nurse for 3rd MCDS, which is forward headquartered here and handles all medical operations in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.

“The Moderna vaccine is effective in preventing COVID-19. But with the new Delta variant, people can still get COVID, but it will lessen the symptoms of serious illness or hospitalization,” she said.
After receiving their first Moderna shot, she said that personnel must wait 28 days for their second shot.

Individuals requesting the vaccination at the event needed to bring their paperwork with them, the colonel said. “They needed to bring their vaccine card with them to this vaccine event, but we give them the DHA form to fill out, and we give them a copy of that to go back to their major command." DHA is shorthand for Defense Health Agency.’

“We put all their information into MEDPROS before they leave,” the Meridian, Mississippi, native said. MEDPROS is the Army’s Medical Protection System, the digital hub for Soldiers’ medical records.

Army Reserve Sgt. 1st Class Paul “Papa Joe” Jodrey, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the 3rd MCDS’s vaccine event, said he started planning roughly one month ago.

Jodrey said part of the planning process was the careful handling of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, which must remain super-frozen until ready to be used. This requirement means that every handoff in the logistics process must be documented. "We are required to cold-chain."

When the vaccine leaves the freezer, it must remain refrigerated, he said. “Once it’s thawed it’s good for 30 days. Once the vial is open, it is only good for five to six hours.”

In addition to the “Desert Medics” of the 3rd MCDS, the Worcester, Massachusetts, native said, he built his team from other units deployed here, including 248th Veterinarian Detachment, 811th Combat Support Hospital, the 257th Dental Company Area Support, the 1493rd Combat and Operational Stress Control and the 3rd Division Sustainment Brigade.

Army Reserve Spc. Christina Schmidt, a combat medic with the 811th CSH, one of the medical Soldiers administering the vaccines, said most of the questions she gets are about the side effects after the second vaccine injection.

Most individuals receiving the second dose of the Moderna vaccine will experience soreness at the injection site. In some cases, they may have chills, muscle aches, and or mild fever.

Staff Sgt. Richard James Ford, 319th Ordnance Company (EOD), said he was hesitant to get the COVID-19 vaccine, but he decided that it was his duty to come into the event and take care of it.

Sitting in the holding area, where medical staff observes personnel for 15 minutes after they get their shots, Ford, a native of Chehalis, Washington, said he was not feeling any adverse effects. "I feel fine."