Availability of COVID-19 boosters will remain limited at army bases in Europe until early next year

COVID-19 booster injections at U.S. Army facilities in Europe will only be given to people in high-risk categories for the remainder of the year. Boosters for all eligible people 18 and over are expected to be available at bases in early 2022. (Alexander Riedel / US Air Force)

NAPLES, Italy – U.S. Army bases in Europe will postpone most COVID-19 booster injections until early 2022, as the service instead prioritizes unvaccinated staff and those at high risk.

In a statement released on Monday, military health officials in Europe said booster shots will be given in the short term to people aged 65 and over, those at risk of serious illness and essential workers. the mission. Vaccination of unvaccinated military personnel and children is also part of the revised target, the statement said.

Gino Mattorano, spokesperson for the Army’s Regional Health Command Europe, said that “very early in the new year” all eligible people 18 and over should be able to receive reminders at medical facilities in the army.

The military statement comes amid new federal guidelines announced Friday recommending COVID-19 booster injections for adults who were fully vaccinated with Pfizer or Moderna injections at least six months ago.

Health officials are increasingly concerned about an increase in COVID-19 as the vaccine’s effectiveness wanes and vacation trips, parties and family gatherings make people more susceptible to infection.

While the Defense Ministry has demanded that military and civilian workers be fully immunized, booster injections remain optional.

Even so, demand for vaccines appears to be high in some US military hospitals in Europe, especially Germany and Italy.

Americans can receive a booster shot in parts of Germany without having to go through the military. Various German states are offering COVID-19 mobile vaccination stations or reopening vaccination centers, and officials say Americans are welcome.

The US Naval Hospital in Naples was accepting appointments Monday for people 18 and older who had been fully immunized at least six months previously, but by mid-afternoon the available appointments were full until to December 10. No later date has been given.

The Sigonella Naval Air Base Hospital in Sicily had Moderna and Johnson & Johnson boosters available by appointment only at its two clinics, according to the base. Web page.

However, military personnel assigned to the base flight line clinic could be vaccinated without an appointment, the webpage said.

Spokesmen for the Navy hospitals in Naples, Sigonella and Souda Bay in Crete were unable to respond to requests for further information on Monday.

At Aviano Air Base in Italy, officials announced on Facebook that booster shots using only Pfizer’s vaccine were available to all adults on Monday at its walk-in clinic. Later today, they announced that the snaps would also be available on Tuesday and Wednesday.

All three vaccines will be available from November 29, and administration of walk-in reminders will be offered every Friday from December 3, the base clinic announced on Facebook on Monday.

“In the first few weeks we expect a lot of people to come, so if you only became eligible recently, it may be best to give it a few weeks before coming,” Dr Mark Lamson, medical director for allergies. and vaccinations in Aviano, said Friday in a separate article.

Recall fire was not yet available Monday for US servicemen stationed at Royal Air Force Lakenheath in England.

In anticipation of the availability of recalls, officials were encouraging online registrations through the Defense Health Agency portal, said Captain Marie Ortiz, US Air Force spokesman in Lakenheath.

At Ramstein Air Base in Germany, medical authorities were limiting booster injections.

Only military personnel 18 years and older, teachers in the Department of Defense, people 65 years of age and older, and people who live or work in high-risk settings and were fully immunized six months or more ago were eligible, said Lt. Col. Will Powell, spokesperson for the 86th Airlift Wing.

Due to high demand, the base will no longer offer walk-in clinics for callbacks. At one of those clinics on Friday, around 750 doses of Moderna and Pfizer were administered, he said.

Booster injections will be given by appointment only to ensure priority for active and essential duty personnel, he said, adding that an online appointment link will be posted on the COVID-19 page of the base as soon as it becomes available.

Stars and Stripes reporters Jennifer Svan, Kyle Alvarez, and Norman Llamas contributed to this report.

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