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News | May 24, 2021

Adirim, Place Laud DHA Response to COVID-19 in Briefing

Dr. Terry Adirim, acting assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, and Army Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Ronald J. Place, director of the Defense Health Agency, provided a COVID-19 update Thursday during a Pentagon press briefing. Read full transcript.

Just one month ago, when vaccinations were available to everyone, the active duty population was only at 37% receiving one dose, said Adirim. "So, we're making good, steady progress."

It's important to note that COVID-19 infection incidents for DOD personnel are lower than for the civilian population, she said. "That is a sign that our force health protection measures are working."

The department has redoubled its efforts to encourage everyone to get vaccinated, she noted.

Last week, in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance on masking, the department announced that fully vaccinated personnel can safely participate in most activities and are no longer required to wear a mask indoors or outdoors at most DOD facilities, she said. However, unvaccinated personnel should continue wearing masks as required by DOD policy to protect themselves and others who have not been fully vaccinated.

Defense Department service members, including the National Guard, have so far administered over 15 million doses of vaccines to civilians across America, she added.

Place said that last week when the Food and Drug Administration authorized the Pfizer vaccine for 12- to 15-year-olds, DOD began shipping it overseas for DOD's adolescent community.

Earlier this week, Place said he hosted a meeting with allies and partner nations' medical communities to better understand effective approaches in terms of both treatment and vaccinations.

"I'm grateful for the contributions and collaboration of so many medical professionals throughout the United States and across the world," he said.

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