The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

By Kathleen Stinson
Staff writer 

Q&A: Cannon chief of media relations talks COVID-19

 

Last updated 8/22/2021 at 8:21pm



President Joe Biden announced his support on August 9th for Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s plan to add the COVID-19 vaccination to the list of required vaccinations for service members by mid-September.

The News asked Misty Mercado, chief of media relations at Cannon Air Force Base about the requirement Wednesday.

Q: What percentage of Cannon personnel are vaccinated as of right now? How many with at least one dose, and how many with both shots?

A: The vaccination rate among Cannon Air Force Base personnel is on par with the Department of Defense military-wide reported numbers. According to the U.S. Department of Defense defense.gov website, as of (Wednesday), a total of 244,976 service members have been partially vaccinated. Fully vaccinated service members total 1,077,981.

Partially vaccinated Air Force personnel total 31,847, as stated on the defense.gov website. There are 288,728 fully vaccinated Air Force service members.

Q: What plans does the base have for ensuring all service members will be fully vaccinated by the mid-September deadline per Secretary Austin and President Biden's statements on whitehouse.gov?

A: The 27th Special Operations Medical Group is working to develop a COVID-19 vaccine implementation plan for the CAFB Airmen still requiring it.

Q: Does the base currently have different protocols for vaccinated versus unvaccinated?

A: CAFB strictly adheres to Department of Defense guidance stating that regardless of vaccination status, mask wear is mandatory for all service members, federal employees, onsite contractor employees and visitors when indoors on the installation. We are currently considering additional policy changes, for both vaccinated and unvaccinated personnel, as Curry and Roosevelt counties continue to be considered areas with high community transmission.

Q: Are squadron leaders hearing about hesitancy from their units? What's their general reaction?

A: We believe most troops will respond positively to the COVID-19 vaccine directive, just as they do in every other mission-critical issued order.

Q: What is the process for verifying? I believe they sign a paper swearing they are vaccinated, and they may get a dishonorable discharge if they lie on a document.

A: The 27th Special Operations Medical Group immediately updates the medical records of active-duty personnel receiving the vaccine on CAFB. Airmen receiving the vaccine at an off-base medical facility can get their records updated by bringing proof of vaccination to the 27 SOMDG (Special Operations Medical Group) Immunization Clinic or to their assigned health care provider.

Q: What is the vaccine process on base? Can personnel just go to the base hospital, or can they do a vaccination through local hospitals or pharmacies?

A: Active-duty service members, contractors, dependents and Department of Defense civilians can receive their COVID-19 vaccine at the 27 (Special Operations Medical Group) by scheduling an appointment through the new Defense Heath Agency Appointing Portal. They may also receive their vaccine at any off-base medical facility of their choosing.

— Compiled by Staff Writer Kathleen Stinson

 
 

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