By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Damon Grosvenor
Sailors aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as part of the Department of Defense’s effort to protect its personnel against the virus in Souda Bay, Greece, Feb. 20, 2021.
The vaccine Porter received was developed by the American pharmaceutical company Moderna and the National Institute of Health. It was approved in December by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).
The vaccine requires two doses, the first of which was received by Porter Feb. 20, and the second of which is to be administered at Naval Hospital Rota in Rota, Spain at a later date.
Cmdr. Thomas Ralston, Porter’s commanding officer, said that the ship has been operating in a COVID environment for over a year and receiving the vaccine helps his crew make good progress against the virus.
“Sink COVID!” said Ralston.
Ralston said that this is a solid first solid step towards normalcy for everyone and wanted to extend his gratitude to the medical professionals across the Sixth Fleet’s area of operations.
“Thank you to U.S Naval Hospital Rota, Spain and U.S. Naval Hospital Souda Bay, Greece for coordinating and delivering the vaccine to Porter's Sailors,” said Ralston.
Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Brandon Slavin, assigned to Naval Hospital Rota and currently aboard Porter, and Hospitalman Kevin Gonzalez, assigned to Porter, administered the first dose of vaccine to their shipmates on the mess decks of Porter.
“We coordinated with the [Independent Duty Corpsman] and the Senior Medical Officer at [Naval Support Activity] Souda Bay to arrange the preparation and delivery of the vaccines to Porter,” said Slavin. “Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 60 arranged for the vaccines to be shipped to NSA Souda Bay, and their immunizations clinic is holding them at required temperatures for us. They are aware of our circumstances and are ready to assist us once we start to give the vaccine. They have been extremely helpful throughout this process.”
The medical department of Porter made quick and efficient work of distributing the vaccine thanks to Gonzalez. He created the plan of action for getting the vaccine to the Sailors once it arrived on Porter.
“Since we are in a “bubble status” the vaccines were brought aboard Porter by three Hospital Corpsmen from NSA Souda Bay, all of whom were fully immunized and took protective measures to ensure safety,” said Gonzalez.
Gonzalez and the Porter medical team administered the vaccine on the ship’s mess decks. All hands attended the trainings in the weeks leading up to the vaccination event.
Sailors aboard the Porter like Chief Gas Turbine Systems Technician (Mechanical) Deariel Miles said that getting the vaccine was important because it not only helped protect himself but those around him.
“I received the COVID-19 vaccine to be a part of the solution,” said Miles. “I want to prevent any further spread of the disease and protect my loved ones at home.”
Porter, forward-deployed to Naval Station Rota, Spain, is conducting naval operations in the U.S. Sixth Fleet area of operations in supporter of U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.
NSA Souda Bay is an operational ashore base that enables U.S., allied, and partnered nation forces to be where they are needed when they are needed to ensure security and stability in Europe, Africa, and Southwest Asia.
U.S. Sixth Fleet, head quartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.