Medical Minute: Update on COVID vaccine, local case trends

It has been a couple of weeks since my last article, and I hope you have been well. Lots of encouraging news from my perspective as schools are back in-person this week. It is important to note that throughout the pandemic here, we have not had any cases of COVID transmission between students and teachers or between students in the school setting.

Furthermore, it is important to note that the majority of our Department of Defense Education Activity school staff have been vaccinated in Phase 1B. I am confident in DODEA’s mitigation plan should we have any cases arise in the school system. Child and Youth Services staff have also been offered the vaccine. Having both of these populations vaccinated will contribute to prevention as we get back to some form of normalcy.

We have made a lot of progress with regards to the vaccine. Ramstein has administered more doses than any other base in USAFE. This week, we will continue in Phase 1B with some of our highest risk patients while also immunizing some key/essential personnel.

Of note, the vaccine line is moving from the Southside Fitness Center Annex across the street to the north where it will be located in the En-route Patient Staging Facility C-Bay (just west of the recycling center). We greatly appreciate the fitness center staff’s willingness to loan us the annex for the past two months.

In terms of number of cases, both Germany as well as local cases are on the decline. On base, we have not seen numbers this low since last summer. Kaiserslautern is down to 22-24 cases per 100,000 people (county and city). The German goal is to stay under 35 cases per 100,000 people so the local community can start to reopen. Now is definitely not the time to let up, though. Please continue to maintain good precaution measures. It seems that our highest risk has to do with travel. The majority of our recent cases have been related to travel to or from risk areas, including the United States.

As a reminder, we are still in DOD’s Stop Movement, so unofficial travel should be limited to the greatest extent possible. If you are traveling on orders to the United States, we conduct antigen testing from 7:30 to 10 a.m. each weekday at the Enlisted Club. For travel to other countries, PCR testing may be required. We do not do any testing for unofficial travel.

I again want to thank the volunteers we have had working with us for the past several weeks. As we move forward, I have asked that all of our volunteers go through the American Red Cross for documentation reasons. We will be using volunteers at multiple locations (not just the shot line) within the 86th Medical Group and plan to open up these opportunities in the near future.

Stay healthy!