Happy New Year! I am excited that COVID-19 vaccinations began this week with the first group of first responders including Defenders, firefighters and medics. Also included in this eligible group were aeromedical evacuation medics assigned to the 86th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron and the 10th Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Flight. These amazing professionals have already transported hundreds of COVID patients throughout the pandemic.
As promised, I was in line behind the frontline medics in this first phase of COVID vaccination. After receiving the shot Monday, so far nothing out of the ordinary to report. My shoulder is a little sore, similar to other inoculations, but it actually feels less sore than when I get the influenza shot.
The vaccine is a crucial step to finding normalcy. Despite current lockdown restrictions in Germany, numbers are still up across the country. The Kaiserslautern community is 114-127 cases per 100,000 population in the last 7 days. Based on these continued elevated case counts in our host nation, it is not surprising that German government officials met on Tuesday to discuss an extension of the lockdown.
In the United States, case numbers continue to remain elevated as well. Over 1.3 million new cases in the last week with more than 2,000 deaths a day. To date, 328,000 Americans have lost their lives to COVID. This is more than combat casualties from World War I, Korea, and Vietnam combined. I fear we will soon match the number of U.S. lives lost in World War II (just over 400,000). To find more information about the vaccine, visit: https://www.ramstein.af.mil/COVID-19-Vaccine-Information/.
On the influenza front, we expect an additional shipment of vaccine this week! The team is planning options to deliver both vaccines simultaneously. We hope to collaborate with our Landstuhl Regional Medical Center partners in mass influenza lines at Ramstein. More info to follow as details get worked out.
Running simultaneous shot lines for COVID and influenza pulls medical staff from providing acute and routine care in the clinic. During the next few weeks, you may notice a decreased response time or increased difficulty with getting routine appointments. We are prioritizing distribution of the influenza and COVID vaccines to protect the entire population. Please be patient with us as we strive to maintain safety in a COVID-compliant fashion. I highly encourage you to seek out both vaccines, when they are available to you.
Please continue precautions in accordance with local and installation guidance including mask wear, physical distancing, and handwashing. Stay home if you are sick, and avoid traveling. We are all in this together.