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Okie Airmen receive initial COVID-19 vaccine

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Lauren Kelly
  • 507th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- More than 250 Reservists and civilians in the 507th Air Refueling Wing, 513th Air Control Group and 10th Flight Test Squadron here voluntarily received the first of the two-part Moderna COVID-19 vaccine Feb. 7, 2021, during the February unit training assembly.

Maj. Scott Blair, 507th Medical Squadron Director of Operations, said the second dose can be administered between 24-42 days after the first dose, adding that the Defense Health Agency has ensured all military treatment facilities will receive enough vaccines to complete the second shot for those who received the first dose of the vaccine during the February UTA.

“Medical squadron personnel coordinated with unit commanders early in the scheduling process to ensure that members being scheduled to receive the first dose during our February UTA would also be available during the March UTA,” Blair said.

Coordinating this event was no easy task for the medical squadron, according to Blair.

“This event would not have been as successful as it was without leadership engagement and support,” said Blair. “Col. Michael Parks, 507th ARW commander and Col Jim Mattey, 513th ACG commander were instrumental in ensuring members were queried for participation and de-conflicted any scheduling issues that came up.”

Parks asked that all Airmen in the wing utilize all of their resources to make an informed decision on whether or not to get vaccinated.

“I want to thank each Okie that educated themselves on the facts of the COVID-19 vaccine and then made an informed decision to receive or to not receive the vaccine,” Parks said.  “Your education is our key to fight through the pandemic and preserve our capabilities.”

On a typical UTA, the 507th Medical Squadron team performs an array of functions from conducting annual physicals, administering vaccines, performing lab testing and reviewing medical records in order to ensure more than 1,700 Reservists are medically prepared to deploy anytime.

“Considering this is outside the normal scope of services we typically provide during UTA weekends, coupled with the fact that we also ran a separate flu shot line in the maintenance hangar at the same time, I would say it went exceedingly well,” said Blair.

Adding the COVID vaccine clinic proved to be a challenge, but that didn’t stop the MDS from accomplishing their mission.

“Between normal UTA clinic operations on Saturday, COVID shots and flu shots on Sunday, we delivered nearly 800 shots in arms over the weekend,” said Blair.

1st Lt. Aubrey Crawley, 465th Air Refueling Squadron KC-135 pilot, explained his reasons for volunteering to receive the vaccine.

“For me, getting the vaccine was an easy decision,” Crawley said. “I want to help end the pandemic. I am looking forward to spending quality time with the important people in my life.”

Lt. Col. Elaine Boyd, 513th Operations Squadron Director of Operations, said she and her Airmen were very impressed with how efficient the COVID vaccination clinic was conducted, as well as the hospitality and welcoming demeanor of the MDS staff.

“UTAs are always tough for us,” said Boyd. “It’s a constant battle to try and balance flying and appointments. The flexibility the MDS displayed proves what we can accomplish when we work together.”

The Centers for Disease Control says common side effects with either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine can include arm soreness at the injection site.

The CDC has a central portal where people can report any symptoms from the vaccines.