MARTINSBURG, W.Va. --
The 167th Airlift Wing conducted COVID-19 vaccine information sessions in the wing auditorium during September’s unit training assembly, Sept. 11, 2021. The 167th Medical Group created and presented the session, titled “COVID-19 Vaccine: Informed Confidence”.
The information sessions were directed toward the wing’s currently unvaccinated members, with a goal of communicating information about the COVID-19 vaccine, address concerns and answer questions from members.
The Secretary of the Air Force directed National Guard members be fully vaccinated by Dec. 2, 2021 in accordance with a memorandum issued by U.S. Department of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Aug. 23, mandating Coronavirus disease vaccinations for all members of the Armed Forces under Department of Defense authority.
Service members will receive the Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA COVID-19 ® vaccine through a military provider, which is currently the only vaccine approved by the FDA.
“We have a commitment to readiness,” said Brig. Gen. David Cochran, assistant adjutant general - Air, West Virginia National Guard. “We want you to understand and be educated on what’s going on with the vaccine.”
Lt. Col. Kevin Culbert, 167th Medical Group Commander, began the sessions by explaining to the audience how the COVID-19 vaccine was developed, it’s effectiveness and possible side effects.
“A majority of U.S. hospitalizations have been the unvaccinated population,” said Culbert. “The vaccine greatly reduces the chances of severe illness and we are lucky to have access to this vaccine.”
Chief Master Sgt. Tracie Darby, 167th Medical Group chief, explained the process of medical exemptions to the vaccine, which can be found in AFI 48-110_IP, Immunizations and Chemoprophylaxis for the Prevention of Infectious Diseases.
Religious accommodations for the vaccine were presented by Major Ron Faith, 167th Airlift Wing chaplain, found in DAFI 52-201, Religious Freedom in the Department of the Air Force.
167th legal team representatives were also available during the session to address legal concerns and answer questions.
“Everybody here is a mobility asset,” said Col. Marty Timko, 167th Airlift Wing commander. “Immunizations are in place to keep you protected out there where the mission has to be done, anytime.”
For more information, members are encouraged to work with their chain of command. Members may contact the 167th Medical Group to schedule their COVID-19 vaccine.