Deploying Marines and Sailors receive COVID-19 vaccine

Marines in action at Camp Lejeune (Courtesy: 2d Marine Division)

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (WWAY) — Deploying Marines and Sailors with II Marine
Expeditionary Force (II MEF) received COVID-19 vaccinations in preparation for an upcoming overseas deployment at the Russell Marine and Family Services Center in Camp Lejeune on Jan. 15.

In compliance with the Department of Defense’s coronavirus disease 2019 vaccination plan in support of Operation Warp Speed, U.S. Navy corpsmen, nurses, and doctors with 2nd Medical Battalion worked alongside the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit to form the II MEF COVID-19 vaccination team.

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The team hosted a week-long campaign to ensure deploying service members were given the opportunity to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine before traveling abroad to support contingency operations and bilateral training efforts overseas.

“We’re trying to keep the medical readiness of the force at an all-time high with the vaccine,” said Hospital Corpsman Third Class Marcus Wells, a corpsman with 2nd Medical Battalion. “To have the opportunity to be [vaccinated] is historical not only for the military but also for the world.”

While the vaccination remains voluntary for service members, the goal of the campaign was to inoculate as many Marines and Sailors that were willing to volunteer. A significant effort was placed on communicating the safety and efficacy of the vaccine, which inspired many to get immunized prior to deploying.

“The vaccine is safe,” said Lt. Rebecca Gerena, officer-in-charge of the II MEF COVID-19 vaccination team. “We’ve had over 1,000 Marines and Sailors come through to receive the vaccine this week, and we have had minimal to no reactions at all. We’ve seen less side effects than the flu vaccine.”

Over 1,200 Marines and Sailors were vaccinated during the week, and II MEF medical providers were confident that those numbers will continue to grow as additional doses of the vaccine become available to larger populations in the coming months.

“It’s a matter of keeping the force healthy,” said Gerena. “The virus has ran rampant on the whole world. If we can protect our Marines so they can protect the world, [then] that’s that we are here for.”

Updated guidance regarding the Marine Corps’ COVID-19 vaccination distribution process will be made available as dictated by evolving vaccine availability, evidence, and higher level directives. Visit the COVID-19 section of the Marines’ website for updates.