FORT DRUM — Fort Drum received its first shipment of the Pfizer novel coronavirus vaccine over the weekend and administered the first vaccine to a clinic nurse on post.
Mary Paul, a nurse assigned to the Bowe COVID-19 treatment clinic, was the first in line to receive it.
She’s been working in Fort Drum’s COVID clinic, so it was fitting she’d be among the first to receive the vaccine.
“Working with the COVID team since the beginning, it only makes sense,” she said. “If the vaccine is offered, we might as well do our part and start getting the community vaccinated so we can all get back to normal and carry on.”
She’s being joined by first medical personnel, emergency responders, health care workers and leaders of the 10th Mountain Division and Garrison command team to receive the COVID-19 vaccine on Fort Drum.
The rollout of the vaccine on Fort Drum is part of the Department of Defense’s phased in strategy.
Clinical trials for the vaccine have shown it to be safe and effective, which led the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to issue an Emergency Use Authorization.
Maj. Dexter Williams, Army Public Health Nursing chief, said that the Fort Drum medical team and medics from 2nd Brigade Combat Team are working tirelessly to safely administer the vaccine.
The vaccine is administered in two doses, three weeks apart. After receiving the first dose, each participant is given a vaccination card that is required when returning for the second inoculation.
The vaccines are voluntarily, but Fort Drum’s leadership are among the first in a show of support so when others onpost will receive them.
In the coming weeks, other people will have the opportunity to receive the vaccine, including deploying service members, high-risk community members and, lastly, the healthy population.
The Fort Drum community has been hit hard by the virus. While county officials could not provide the current number of cases, about 30% of an increase in coronavirus cases in Jefferson County were linked to Fort Drum.
While the rollout began at Fort Drum, Maj. Gen. Brian Mennes, commander of the 10th Mountain Division, in serving in Afghanistan, and he, too, will soon be vaccinated while serving in Afghanistan.
He’s confident that high numbers of volunteers will roll up their sleeves because they know the importance of limiting the spread of the virus.
“You lead by example,” Gen. Mennes said.
He was interviewed in Afghanistan on Monday via Zoom as part of an Advocate Drum speaker series.