NORFOLK, Va. - The Department of Defense is prioritizing distribution of available COVID-19 vaccines using a three-phased system for service members stationed domestically and abroad.
Since December, when vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna received Emergency Use Authorization from the Food and Drug Administration, the Defense Department has been implementing the phased approach.
The tiered system involves all healthcare providers, healthcare support, emergency services, and public safety personnel receiving the vaccine in Phase 1a.
Locally, healthcare workers at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth began receiving the vaccine in mid-December.
In phase 1b.1, vaccines will be available to those supporting what the Defense Department considers "critical national capabilities" and in phase 1b.2 to those preparing to deploy outside the contiguous United States.
In phase 1b.3, any critical and essential support personnel not covered previously would receive the vaccine, before it was made available to high-risk beneficiaries in Phase 2 and the healthy population in Phase 3.
So far, the Defense Department continues to offer the vaccine on a voluntary basis, not a required one, though it is being encouraged.
Vaccine doses have been sent to more than 150 Department of Defense administration sites in both the United States and overseas.
Since December 13, the military has received more than 160,000 vaccine doses from the U.S. allocation.