Nellis continues COVID-19 vaccinations, reduces HPCON

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Capt. Benjamin Irmen, 99th Medical Group pharmacist, holds a vile containing the COVID-19 vaccine at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Feb. 5, 2021. The COVID-19 vaccine was designed to help combat the spread of Coronavirus, which has contributed to the deaths of more than 400,000 Americans. (Air Force photograph by Airman 1st Class Dwane R. Young)
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As a decrease in COVID-19 cases at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., has been sustained and vaccinations continue, the base returned to installation green status and Health Protection Condition (HPCON) Bravo Feb. 16, 2021.

With the transition to green status, unrestricted travel may resume to and from other installations that are also in green status. HPCON Bravo means the risk of community transmission has decreased from substantial to moderate.

People on base should still practice social distancing and avoid unnecessary travel. Additionally, masks are required on base in accordance with a memo issued by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III Feb. 4, 2021.

The memo outlined four exceptions:
* when an individual is alone in an office with floor-to-ceiling walls with a closed door;
* for brief periods of time when eating and drinking while maintaining distancing in accordance with CDC guidelines and instructions from commanders and supervisors;
* when the mask is required to be lowered briefly for identification or security purposes;
* when necessary to reasonably accommodate an individual with a disability.

Acting Secretary of the Air Force John P. Roth issued a memo Feb. 16, 2021, providing Department of the Air Force-specific guidance on use of masks.

Col. Cameron Dadgar, Nevada Test and Training Range commander, receives a tour of cold storage freezers used by the 99th Medical Group to preserve COVID-19 vaccines at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Feb. 5, 2021. Moderna COVID-19 Vaccines must be stored in a freezer between -25 and -15 degrees Celsius to remain effective. (
Air Force photograph by Airman 1st Class Dwane R. Young)

“Our charge is to defend the nation, both with the execution of our duties and through our collective public health measures, to include the wear of masks,” the memo read.

Department of Air Force exceptions to mask use include:
* when the use interferes with the proper wear of personal protective equipment;
* when in primary aircrew positions during critical phases of flight or emergencies;
* when using flight crew oxygen equipment;
* when clear or unrestricted visualization of verbal communication are essential to safe and effective operations;
* when actively participating in physical fitness activities and proper physical distancing is maintained or other measures are implemented to mitigate the threat of transmission;
* when outdoors and proper physical distance can be maintained;
* when alone in a vehicle or sharing a vehicle with household members;
* to reasonably accommodate a religious belief;
* to accommodate underlying health conditions as outlined by a healthcare provider.

In addition to following these protocols, professionals at the Mike O’Callaghan Military Medical Center continue to provide COVID-19 vaccines following the Department of Defense distribution plan. Vaccinations are currently being administered to healthcare workers, first responders, national critical capabilities forces and those preparing to deploy.

Col. Todd Dyer, 99th Air Base Wing commander, receives his second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Feb. 5, 2021. The 99th Medical Group is administering COVID-19 vaccines in a phased system. The first phase of vaccines is being provided to healthcare workers, first responders, national critical capabilities forces and those preparing to deploy. (Air Force photograph by Airman 1st Class Dwane R. Young)

Although a timeline has not been set, the next phase will include beneficiaries age 75 and older and front line essential workers.

“It’s great to see the team working together to make sure we get the vaccine out expeditiously,” said Brig. Gen. Michael Drowley, 57th Wing commander, as he received his COVID-19 vaccine.
“When we do that, we’re able to take care of each other and take care of the team, and that’s what being a part of this wing is all about.”

Other base leaders, including Col. Todd Dyer, 99th Air Base Wing commander; Col. Cameron Dadgar, Nevada Test and Training Range commander; and Command Chief Master Sgt. Alex Morgan III, 99th Air Base Wing command chief master sergeant, have also received their vaccines.

To remain fully protected against COVID-19, it is imperative to get a second dose of the vaccine around 28 days after receiving the first dose. Beneficiaries who received their first dose before Jan. 22 should make an appointment for their second dose by calling the COVID hotline at 702-653-2273.

To offer more information about the vaccination process at Nellis Air Force Base, and the base’s response to COVID-19, Dyer held a virtual town hall with 99th Medical Group leaders on the base’s Facebook page Feb. 17. A recording of the town hall can be viewed at https://www.facebook.com/NellisAFB/videos/873130403419550.
 
 
 

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