CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (WNCN) — Marines and Sailors at Camp Lejeune received the COVID-19 vaccine in preparation for deployment overseas.
In compliance with the Department of Defense’s coronavirus disease 2019 vaccination plan in support of Operation Warp Speed, U.S. Navy corpsmen, nurses, and doctors with 2nd Medical Battalion worked alongside the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit to form the II MEF COVID-19 vaccination team.
The team hosted a week-long campaign to ensure deploying service members were given the opportunity to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine before traveling abroad to support “contingency operations and bilateral training efforts overseas,” according to Camp Lejeune officials.
“We’re trying to keep the medical readiness of the force at an all-time high with the vaccine,” said
Hospital Corpsman Third Class Marcus Wells, a corpsman with 2nd Medical Battalion. “To have the
opportunity to be [vaccinated] is historical not only for the military but also for the world.”
While the vaccination remains voluntary for service members, leaders say the goal of the campaign was to inoculate as many Marines and Sailors that were willing to volunteer.
“The vaccine is safe,” said Lt. Rebecca Gerena, officer-in-charge of the II MEF COVID-19 vaccination
team. “We’ve had over 1,000 Marines and Sailors come through to receive the vaccine this week, and we have had minimal to no reactions at all. We’ve seen less side effects than the flu vaccine.”
Over 1,200 Marines and Sailors were vaccinated during the week, and II MEF medical providers were confident that those numbers will continue to grow as additional doses of the vaccine become available to larger populations in the coming months.
“It’s a matter of keeping the force healthy,” said Gerena. “The virus has ran rampant on the whole world. If we can protect our Marines so they can protect the world, [then] that’s what we are here for.”