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US defense chief, top generals to get vaccine next week

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Defense Health Agency Director Lt. Gen. Ronald Place explains how the Pentagon will distribute its initial allocation of 44,000 doses of Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine./AFP
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Dec 10, 2020 - 01:20 PM

WASHINGTON — Secretary of Defense Chris Miller and his top generals will be vaccinated for Covid-19 by next week after the expected approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, Pentagon officials said Wednesday.

Miller, Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist, Joint Chiefs Chairman General Mark Milley and Vice Chairman General John Hyten, and Joint Chiefs Senior Enlisted Advisor Ramon Colon-Lopez will be first in line for vaccinations to protect the US military’s command structure, said Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Thomas McCaffery.

The Pentagon will get an initial 44,000 doses of Pfizer’s treatment, which could gain final approval from the Food and Drug Administration as early as late Thursday, he said.

The final step will be a review scheduled for Sunday by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We are confident within 24 to 48 hours from that advisory committee decision, we will actually have shots in arms,” said Lieutenant General Ronald Place, director of the Defense Health Agency.

Besides the Pentagon leadership, the Defense Department’s priority recipients will be health care and support personnel at military hospitals and emergency services and public safety workers.

The first distribution will go to 16 bases, including one each in South Korea, Germany, and Japan.

McCaffery said they plan for military leaders to get their injections “in a very public way” to encourage US defense personnel to trust the vaccine’s safety and follow suit.

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