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49th Wing commander gets COVID-19 vaccine

Col. Ryan Keeney, 49th Wing commander at Holloman Air Force Base, received his COVID-19 vaccination Jan. 15, 2021.

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By NICOLE MAXWELL | Alamogordo Daily News | Published: January 20, 2021

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(Tribune News Service) — The COVID-19 vaccine is still in the early stages of rollout which means that some essential workers are able to get the vaccination.

Col. Ryan Keeney, 49th Wing commander at Holloman Air Force Base, received his COVID-19 vaccination last week.

“I’m doing absolutely fine, it’s like any other vaccine shot we get,” Keeney said. “(I’m) excited that we’re finally rolling it out here and I was able to get it.”

Keeney survived a leukemia relapse in 2012 which left him immunocompromised following a bone marrow transplant in 2013.

Keeney did not get vaccinated for COVID-19 just for his fellow Airmen and their loved ones, he is getting it for those who are immunocompromised across New Mexico.

“I just remember how scared my family was when I was immunocompromised so I’m imagining those folks around the region who were in that same situation. Part of this is me getting the vaccine for them, to help protect them,” Keeney said.

Another reason Keeney got the COVID-10 vaccine was to encourage the people of Otero County to get it as it becomes available.

“I know there’s been some people who have been questioning about the vaccine, after looking into it I’m really confident that it really is not only safe but really effective,” Keeney said.

Keeney said his main message to the people on Holloman Air Force Base and the surrounding are is to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

More: Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center gets first round of COVID-19 vaccine

“We’re not only protecting ourselves; we’re protecting our community and the more people we can get immune to COVID-19, the quicker we can get back to what is normal and put 2020 behind us,” Keeney said.

The health restriction on base and off are still in place until a large amount of the Holloman Air Force Base population are vaccinated against COVID-19.

“We’re still wearing our masks, trying to stay six feet away, washing our hands… because if people get the vaccine, it isn’t a license to go back to normal yet,” Keeney said. “We’ve got to make sure we continue to protect our community.”

For security purposes, the brand of the COVID-19 vaccine and the number of doses on Holloman Air Force Base were not disclosed.

“We’re just getting our doses here on Base,” Keeney said.

Right now, the COVID-19 vaccines are into the second part of the first phase of the roll-out which means that anyone 65 or older can register for an appointment to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The COVID-19 vaccine is currently available to everyone aged 75 years of age and older, people who are 16 years of age or older with underlying medical conditions that place them at greater risk from COVID-19, frontline essential workers who cannot work remotely and vulnerable populations, according to the state Department of Health.

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