477th Fighter Group prepares for COVID-19 vaccinations

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  • 477th Fighter Group Public Affairs

Several hours on Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021, have been reserved to administer the COVID-19 vaccines to 477th Fighter Group Reserve Citizen Airmen. They will be administered inside the Elmendorf Fitness Center Gym, building 9510. The vaccination site entrance is on the side of the building, near the Arctic Oasis parking lot.  

“Each member will be notified through their chain of command about their vaccine appointment,” said Master Sgt. Paul Koepp, 477th AMDF NCO in charge of physical exams and force health management.

On Sept. 3, 2021, the Department of Air Force published a memorandum establishing a goal to vaccinate service members. Active-duty members have until Nov. 2 to meet requirements. Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard members are required to be fully vaccinated by Dec. 2 of this year.

Mandating vaccines in the military is not new and is in the best interest of the force. Since the first days of basic training and throughout our service, Airmen have received multiple vaccines. There are proven processes in place with trusted and skilled medical professionals to ensure service members are healthy.

The shift of COVID-19 vaccinations from being optional to a requirement for service members appears to have prompted many 477th reservists to finally get vaccinated. 

“Last UTA there were more than 130 that needed to start the vaccination process,” said Capt. Jeff Johnson, 477th AMDF senior administrator. “It’s changing every day. We get vaccination records from our folks who are getting their shots now.”   

As of Thursday, Sept. 30, less than 50 Airmen are scheduled to start the COVID-19 vaccination process, during the October UTA.

477th FG leadership are aware that there are Airmen who may still have questions about the vaccine efficacy and possible side effects.  477th AMDF doctors are planning to be available to answer questions about COVID-19 vaccines during the UTA.  

If a reservist declines to accept the COVID-19 vaccine, without a valid medical, religious, or administrative exemption, their chain of command will provide a full range of resources which may include: individual counseling and professional medical advice to demonstrate the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine. Depending on status, commanders may have a full range of administration actions to ensure unit readiness requirements are met.

All available vaccinations are counted, as long as members complete the vaccination series.  Even though the FDA fully approved the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, reservists are not restricted to only getting that series of vaccinations.  The Moderna series, and single-shot Janssen vaccines are being offered throughout Alaska.  

Members are advised to get their vaccinations by the same manufacturer.  For example, if an Airman starts with the Moderna series, their second dosage should also be a Moderna shot.  Vaccine recipients receive a Centers for Disease and Control Prevention vaccination card when they obtain their initial shot.  The card can help a person keep track of the type of vaccine they receive.

There are more than 30 days between the October and November UTAs. If members want to get their second vaccination dose before the November UTA it is allowed. Reservists must provide to provide proof of the second shot to the 477th AMDF. 

Koepp said, “You can either submit a copy of your proof of vaccination from the pharmacy that your received it at or the CDC vaccination card to your

477th AMDF is not required to track the vaccination status of civilians. 

The current COVID vaccine mandate does not apply to federal civil service employees at this time. Federal civil service employee requirements will be addressed at a later date, in a separate communication. However, Air Force officials highly encourage everyone to get vaccinated. The vaccine will help defend against virus variants and mitigate the effects of an infection.

If a 477th reservist, civilian staff, or their family members wants to find a COVID-19 vaccine on their own, the state of Alaska has many opportunities to obtain vaccines. Information about how to find a vaccination location, can be found on their website: https://dhss.alaska.gov/dph/Epi/id/Pages/COVID-19/VaccineAppointments.aspx#appointments.  

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