Medical Minute: Update on vaccine progress, COVID testing requirements

I hope everyone was able to get some rest this past weekend. This week is a busy one for your 86th Medical Group medics. Not only are we into week three of the initial shipment of COVID-19 vaccines, but we are simultaneously running a joint influenza shot line with our Landstuhl Regional Medical Center teammates. This mass influenza shot line is going on now in Hangar 3, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., until today (or sooner if supply runs out).

On the COVID-19 vaccine front, as mentioned last week, we are now in Phase 1b at Ramstein. This phase has several categories including some frontline essential workers that are most likely to come into contact with COVID-19 as well as some of our most vulnerable patients — those 75 and older.

If you are interested in learning about the phased categories, or for more information, please bookmark our page which is continuously updated as the situation changes.   

While we have seen some “flattening” of the curve from a new case count perspective, the situation is still very fragile. The federal and state governments met again this week and decided to extend the current lockdown until mid-February. Complicating the picture is the news that there are multiple virus “variants” now identified. Despite these new revelations, there is no need to panic. Continue the precautions that have kept us safe and healthy thus far, and get the COVID-19 vaccine when you are eligible.  For those of you who have already started the two-dose series, we received your second dose over the weekend.  You should already have a follow up appointment scheduled approximately 28 days from when you received the first dose.

Thanks to all the first responders, medics, DODEA staff, AAFES/DeCA/FSS food handlers, and others who have volunteered to get the vaccine as a way to protect the population and themselves and to decrease the chance for continued spread of COVID-19. We are all in this together. As our partner, our host nation has vaccinated more than one million German citizens so far. Sadly, I continue to be concerned for the United States where 20,000 Americans have lost their lives to COVID-19 in the last week.

New DOD and CDC guidance is directing change. One notable change is the requirement for increased testing related to travel. Starting Jan. 26, commercial airlines will not allow you to travel to the United States without a negative COVID test within 72 hours. The installation is working hard on a plan to meet these requirements. Please continue to be safe and healthy. Watch your distance, wash your hands, and wear your mask.