Wright-Patt physicians encourage vaccinations


WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE — A team of medics at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base took to Facebook Live Thursday morning to discuss the installation’s vaccine rollout with both Wright-Patt airmen and the public. The goal of the symposium was to help viewers make an informed decision about the coronavirus vaccine and answer questions from beneficiaries about the effectiveness of the shot.

The panel of doctors on Thursday, all of whom had been vaccinated, had experience in the ICU of Wright-Patt Medical Center caring for critically ill COVID-19 patients. Maj. Evan Fisher, a nephrologist at the base, saw “scores” of patients who experienced impaired lung function or kidney function after contracting COVID-19.

““I’ve seen kind of the sickest of the sick,” he said. “Some of these patients are 20-year-olds who did not have any other medical issues before getting sick. Every single one of them now needs to be going to a dialysis center three days a week for the rest of their lives.”

“Both of the vaccines are 95 percent efficacious,” said Maj. Devin Kelly, an infectious disease doctor with the 88th Medical Group. “The major difference is in the schedule, the time between the first and second dose.”

For the Pfizer vaccine, the first and second doses are administered three weeks apart. The Moderna vaccine has a time difference of four weeks between doses.

The vaccine is “the right next step” in getting back to normalcy, Col. Mike Phillips, 88th Air Base Wing vice commander, said.

Wright-Patt operates under the Department of Defense schema for vaccine rollout, which is different from that of the state of Ohio. Col. Patrick Miller, commander of the 88th Air Base Wing, addressed these changes Wednesday evening during his monthly coronavirus town hall.

The DoD recently updated its schema to move certain “mission essential personnel” to phase 1C, and add Tricare beneficiaries 75 and older to phase 1B. Phase 1B also adds “front line essential personnel” to the list of those next to receive vaccines, which includes childcare workers, Comissary employees, and food service workers.

Wright-Patt had previously “blazed through” phase 1A of vaccination, Miller said, referring to the vaccination of healthcare workers and first responders. The commander emphasized that vaccination is currently voluntary, and added that any medics or other individuals that had missed or declined previous rounds would also be served by phase 1B.

Phase 1C of the rollout, as yet a future phase of vaccine distribution, adds beneficiaries 65 to 74 years old, as well as high risk beneficiaries 16 to 64 years of age.

Limited supply of vaccines has necessitated the incremental rollout. Wright-Patterson, like many other medical institutions across the country, currently has not received enough vaccines to inoculate its entire population. However, to date the 88th Medical Group has administered some 5,000 vaccines, the second highest number in the Department of Defence.

“I want to highlight the efforts of our 88th MDG medics,” Col. Christian Lyons, commander of the 88th Medical Group, said during the town hall Wednesday. “We have provided the second-most vaccinations in the entire Air Force, and I couldn’t be more proud of our folks.”

By London Bishop

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Reach London Bishop at 937-502-4532 or follow @LBishopFDH on Twitter.

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