BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. (KSLA) — After receiving their first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines, Barksdale Air Force Base officials say they quickly began to administer them to base personnel.
”This first batch of vaccines, we are focused on our first responders,” said Lt. Col. Kathryn Shaw, commander of the 2nd Operational Medical Readiness Squadron. “So our base first responders, our installation defenders, as well as our medical care providers and staff.”
Barksdale is following the Defense Department’s plan to distribute and administer the vaccines, Shaw said.
“So after our first group, we will be looking toward our nuclear deterrent forces,” she said.
“We are working very closely to make sure we provide the right blocks of time so we can go along with the tiered priority list. Our priority is to get the vaccine administered safely and also get it administered quickly.”
She says airmen have been very receptive in signing up for the first dose. Shaw says she got the vaccine as soon as it was available to her.
“One interesting thing is that I didn’t feel it at all. In the afternoon, I got a little bit of a sore arm, a little bit of a headache. That was pretty much gone the next day.
“I feel very confident in the safety practices of the FDA.” Shaw continued. “I have worked with them in the past and I know how vigorous they are once they approve something for use for the population even with this being under emergency use authorization. So I was very comfortable receiving the vaccine. My concern was more with the disease itself.”
Shaw says she has been with the base’s pandemic response since the beginning.
One of the most interesting things she says she has learned about COVID-19 is the asymptomatic transmission of the virus. “The fact that people can feel well but still have the virus and transmit it to other people who may not be as healthy as they are.
“I’ve learned how the virus impacts people differently. So we know we have our high-risk categories of personnel, but we also know it can randomly be a very serious disease for a young and healthy person as well,” Lt. Col. Shaw added.
”We all need to take that into consideration that none of us is truly safe. It’s not a benign cold or flu.”
Vaccinations are ongoing and voluntary. Airmen are still asked to follow guidelines on and off the base.
Shaw says the community plays a key role in slowing the spread of COVID-19 on base as well.
“I think this community can help defend our defenders by being compliant as well with all those safety behaviors. As you make your own decision about the vaccine, think of it as a personal decision; but think of it as a community decision as well.”