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'This is our responsibility': Army's command team in Europe receives coronavirus vaccine

Gen. Christopher G. Cavoli, commander of U.S. Army Europe and Africa, holds up a COVID-19 vaccination card while standing next to Brig. Gen. Mark Thompson, commanding general of Regional Health Command Europe, at the Wiesbaden Army Health Clinic, Germany, Jan. 14, 2021.

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By DAVID EDGE | STARS AND STRIPES Published: January 14, 2021

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Gen. Christopher G. Cavoli and Command Sgt. Maj. Robert V. Abernethy, the command team of U.S. Army Europe and Africa, received the Moderna vaccine Thursday at the Wiesbaden Army Health Clinic in Germany.

While getting the shots is voluntary for now, the vaccine will play a critical readiness role for the force, Cavoli said.

“If you are a soldier or an (Army) civilian in USAREUR, you are on the front lines,” Cavoli said. “We are here to reassure our allies (and) the only way we can do that is if we are ready.

“You can’t be ready if you are sick, so this is our responsibility to get this vaccination, so that we are ready,” Cavoli said.

Last year, the coronavirus upended big plans for the Army in Europe, which was forced to curtail its largest exercise in decades, Defender Europe-20. Other services in Europe also were forced to scale back or cancel major drills because of health concerns.

The U.S. military in Europe started receiving the vaccines about three weeks ago. But some service members and civilian employees have expressed concern about the vaccine’s effects.

“I think that it’s a natural thing for people to be a little apprehensive about getting any kind of shot, but at the same time it’s our duty to get the shots and be comfortable with the science behind the vaccine,” Abernethy said. “I take comfort watching my medical leaders lead by example getting the shot. “

The vaccines have gone through rigorous safety procedures, added Brig. Gen. Mark Thompson, USAREUR-AF command surgeon.

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Command Sgt. Maj. Robert V. Abernethy, U.S. Army Europe and Africa, gets vaccinated with the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at the Wiesbaden Army Health Clinic, Germany, Jan. 14, 2021.
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