Womack Army Medical Center rolls out first wave of COVID-19 vaccine to healthcare workers

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (WTVD) -- The race to vaccinate healthcare workers on the nation's largest military installation continue.

The first round of the Pfizer vaccine arrived in Fort Bragg on Tuesday, officials executing a plan urging all healthcare workers on post to set the standard.

"I got it just a moment ago. It was easier than a flu vaccine," said Colonel James Burk, commander of the 44th Medical Brigade. "What we're seeing on the data that for any potential side effects are negligible at best and I just want to reinforce this vaccine is safe."

His unit deployed to the Javits Center in New York a few months back taking on the fight against COVID-19. The soldiers witnessed its devastating effects.

"We saw at the initial onset of the pandemic the numbers were really scary. We've seen a lot of this... how it's taking a toll not only on the physical from the other families affected but also the psychological effect," said Burt.

In the basement of Womack Army Medical Center Fort Bragg's distribution management team is at work. They have been receiving, handling and storing the vaccine in an ultracold storage. Officials say it can stay there for up to six months at -80 degrees. The plan is to vaccinate as many people as possible.

"I was there this morning. Our goal for throughput is about 90 to 100 an hour so we're immunizing a lot," said Major Evelyn Lomasney.

Officials anticipate another shipment next week

There is no word on if the Department of Defense will require all soldiers to get vaccinated in general or ahead of any deployments. Nonetheless, officials believe this vaccine could help us all return to life as we once knew it.

"This is really the first steps forward outside of wearing the mask and social distancing in order us get back to any sense of normalcy. We have to take this vaccine," said Burt.
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