Navy vaccinates thousands aboard aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson in one day

By WYATT OLSON | STARS AND STRIPES Published: February 22, 2021

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Nearly 3,000 personnel aboard the USS Carl Vinson were inoculated against the coronavirus in a single day, the Navy’s largest distribution of the vaccine on the West Coast, the service said in a news release Monday.

More than 2,900 members of the aircraft carrier’s crew, strike group staff and embarked helicopter squadrons were given the first round of the two-dose Pfizer vaccine on Friday, the release said. The ship has a crew of about 3,000, Indo-Pacific Command said in September.

The Carl Vinson’s medical department administered the shots in the hangar bay while the ship was docked at its homeport in San Diego.

The inoculations are among preparations for the Vinson’s upcoming deployment, the Navy said.

“We are fortunate that the military is prioritized as a national asset and we have early access to the vaccine,” Cmdr. Josephine Hessert, the carrier’s senior medical officer, said in the news release. “I would definitely encourage everyone to get it in order to keep themselves and their families safe.”

The massive vaccination operation was the culmination of weeks of preparation, the Navy said.

“We all received training on the vaccine, how to administer it properly, and the route by which we can most effectively vaccinate the maximum amount of people possible,” Petty Officer 3rd Class James Barry, a hospital corpsman who was among the medical personnel giving shots, said in the release. “It was a very busy, but very smooth, evolution.”

Vaccination against COVID-19, which is the disease caused by the coronavirus, is voluntary for military personnel.

The Navy did not provide a number or percentage of sailors aboard the Carl Vinson who opted out of being vaccinated.

About one-third of all U.S. service members offered the vaccine have declined it, Air Force Major Gen. Jeff Taliaferro, the vice director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the House Armed Services Committee last week.

The goal of widespread vaccination is to achieve herd immunity, or the point where the virus does not easily spread through the population.

The threshold for herd immunity for the coronavirus is not known, but estimates range from 70-90% of the population.

Twitter: @WyattWOlson

Seaman Anja McIntosh, a culinary specialist from Kingston, Jamaica, receives the COVID-19 vaccine aboard the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson in San Diego, Friday, Feb. 19, 2021.