FORT HUACHUCA — Unvaccinated uniformed service members will get their shot in the arm on the installation in mid-September during a four-day vaccination blitz following orders from the U.S. Secretary of Defense that all active military must be vaccinated against COVID-19.
At Fort Huachuca, the vaccination event, which will take place Sept. 15-18, has been dubbed the “COVID Vaccination Rodeo.”
Maj. Gen. Tony Hale, commander of the installation, said all “uniformed military personnel by organization and by unit” would report to the Eifler Fitness Center between Sept. 15 and 17, while all students on post would receive their shots on Sept. 18.
The vaccine that will be administered will be the Pfizer — now referred to as the Comirnaty vaccine — because it recently received full approval from the Food and Drug Administration, Hale said.
Doses of the vaccine likely will be arriving on Fort Huachuca by Sept. 10, Hale said. The vaccine had not been available on post because there was no storage facility available at the Raymond W. Bliss Army Health Center to keep it cool enough, Hale said. Service members and civilians on post who had been vaccinated had received the Moderna vaccine.
“However, due to the great work by our medical treatment facility, we’re getting a portable storage unit at the installation’s treatment facility to store the vaccine,” the major general said Tuesday evening during a Facebook Live COVID-19 Town Hall.
Hale mentioned there are plenty of Moderna doses available at the installation and anyone wanting that vaccine can get it on Fridays.
Army spokeswoman Tanja Linton said soldiers can choose between Moderna or Comirnaty, but those who don’t get the shot on their own will be given Comirnaty.
Additionally, Hale said that as the installation receives more doses of the Comirnaty vaccine, it is hoped authorization will be given for the dependents and relatives of service members to get it also.
In a separate message on his own Facebook page, Hale said that “over 80 percent of the positive COVID-19 cases on Fort Huachuca” were individuals who had not been vaccinated. In Tuesday’s Town Hall, the general also said that in January there were 157 positive cases on post.
While the number of positive cases started plunging between February and May, Hale said he grew concerned at the beginning of August when they began creeping upward.
According to the Army’s website, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III on Aug. 24 issued a memorandum directing mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for all service members.
The memo directs the secretaries of the military departments to “immediately begin full vaccination of all members of the department on active duty or in the Guard or Reserve, who aren’t yet fully vaccinated against COVID-19.”
A day before Austin’s directive, the FDA gave full approval to the Comirnaty vaccine for individuals 16 years of age and older. Before Aug. 23, the vaccine was available for use through an FDA emergency use authorization.