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Syringes with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

Syringes with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. (Ethan Miller, Getty Images/TNS)

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(Tribune News Service) — New guidance from the Defense Health Agency means military treatment facilities may be able to administer the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to military beneficiaries who are 12- to 17-years-old.

But that won't be the case at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, a spokeswoman for the 88th Air Base Wing said Monday.

If military treatment facilities have enough "purple cap" COVID vaccine in stock, and the vaccine is not easily accessible in civilian locations — meaning, a patient would have to drive more than 50 miles to get the shot — then 12- to 17-year-olds may receive the vaccine on base, said Peter Graves, a Defense Health Agency spokesman, citing the latest guidance Monday.

The new guidance represents a change to recent restrictions imposed by Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Medical Center and other military hospitals. Those military treatment facilities recently restricted vaccine administration to Department of Defense service members, people who are required to be vaccinated.

However, nothing has changed at Wright-Patterson.

"We do not have sufficient stock of the purple cap Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to administer other than to uniformed service members," said Stacey Geiger, spokeswoman for the 88th Air Base Wing. "Any beneficiary appointments made before the restrictions were put into place are also still being honored."

"There have been no changes to our announcement on Jan. 26, 2022, that reserves our current stock of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for uniformed service members and beneficiaries with prior appointments," she added.

There are plenty of COVID-19 vaccines available for anyone who wishes to get vaccinated, although walk-in beneficiaries and their families need to seek those vaccines locally, off-base, for a time, Graves said in an email.

"The legacy (purple cap) Pfizer vaccine currently represents the only vaccine currently in the DOD inventory that can be used for the mandatory vaccination of service members, which is why the purple cap vaccine is being reserved for those in uniform," Graves said.

Service members may also voluntarily request to receive any other mRNA vaccine approved by the Food and Drug Administration either fully licensed or under emergency use authorization in order to meet the vaccine requirement.

The pediatric dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 is still available by appointment in the Wright-Patterson Pediatric Clinic. Those shots can be booked online at https://informatics-stage.health.mil/COVAX/.

Graves also said existing appointments for the Pfizer vaccine typically will be honored, but patients must first check with their immunization clinic since the availability varies by location.

(c)2022 the Dayton Daily News (Dayton, Ohio)

Visit the Dayton Daily News (Dayton, Ohio) at www.daytondailynews.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


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