By Lt. Lyndsi Gutierrez
Naval Station (NAVSTA) Rota, Spain, personnel began receiving the first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at U.S. Naval Hospital (USNH) Rota, Spain, Jan 15. The hospital began administering the vaccine to personnel on a voluntary basis, using a phased prioritization strategy implemented by the Department of Defense and national prioritization guidance, beginning first with frontline healthcare and first responder personnel.
"Our dedicated team of healthcare professionals have been preparing for the arrival of the vaccine for months,” said Capt. Andrew Archila, commanding officer of USNH Rota. “Our providers have been answering questions and providing education to help beneficiaries make the decision that is right for them. We are eager to offer the COVID-19 vaccination to our beneficiaries to ensure force preservation and protect the community.”
The Moderna vaccine received emergency use authorization, Dec. 18, 2020, from the Food and Drug Administration. Under the current emergency use authorization, it is voluntary for military personnel.
“While the vaccine is strictly voluntary at this time,” said Capt. David Baird, commanding officer of NAVSTA Rota, “NAVSTA personnel are highly encouraged to take the vaccine when offered to them, in order to protect their health, their families, their community, and lower the public health risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Keira Woodward and Hospitalman Shannon Moore, both assigned to USNH Rota, were two of the first U.S. personnel at NAVSTA Rota to receive the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.
“Having worked in the COVID clinic, I have first-hand knowledge on how the virus has affected the community,” said Moore, “I appreciate the opportunity in leading the way and showing others that the vaccine is safe.”
The vaccine’s arrival to NAVSTA Rota offers a glimmer of hope and a way forward for personnel stationed at NAVSTA Rota.
"I am grateful that after an exhausting year there finally seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel. I feel privileged and honored to be the first, and am excited for you all to join me," said Woodward.
As additional vaccines arrive, USNH Rota and NAVSTA Rota leadership will continue to move through the prescribed DoD prioritization tiers to offer the vaccine to additional personnel assigned to the installation.
“Naval Station Rota remains committed to the health and safety of our community during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Baird. “The ability to offer COVID-19 vaccines at Naval Station Rota furthers that commitment by helping to protect our people, maintain readiness, and support COVID-19 response.”