MARINE COPRS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C.
In keeping with its overall mission is to maintain combat-ready units for expeditionary deployment during the COVID-19 pandemic, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune has set up a mass vaccination center at Goettge Memorial Field House primarily for members of II Marine Expeditionary Force (II MEF).
On Jan. 25, 2021, II MEF plans to begin inoculation operations to vaccinate as many eligible uniform service members, beneficiaries, civilian employees and essential personnel as possible. The field house will have a maximum capacity to distribute 3,000 vaccines a day. Depending on the availability of vaccines, MCB Camp Lejeune leaders hope the added capability will allow medical personnel to administer shots to around 20,000 service members and civilians per week.
“Our role is to support II MEF and provide additional facilities to get this truly immense task accomplished,” said John C. Reeve, the director of operations and plans with MCIEAST-MCB Camp Lejeune. “We took our field house and configured it for the medical effort and created a facilities capability they do not currently have.” He also indicated once the bulk of the MEF is complete, the field house may be set up to service other non-affiliated personnel if necessary.
While the field house will initially prioritize II MEF personnel, the Naval Medical Center personnel at Building 40 on Brewster Boulevard will continue to vaccinate base and non-MEF tenant personnel normally. The intent is to have two mass inoculation facilities--one for active duty service members and another for the remaining base population. Both facilities will operate under the same protocol.
The pace of vaccinations has quickened considerably with each passing week, according to Wayne Herbert operations officer for G3/5 MCIEAST-MCB Camp Lejeune. “The focus has become laser sharp. When the vaccine first arrived around the week between Christmas and New Year’s, understandably, we had a slow start. The hospital was working its way around implementation procedures and in the first week we saw maybe 100 to 150 vaccinations a day. It has rapidly increased throughout the month of January; just last week we were up to 1000 vaccinations a day in one location.”
According to Herbert, additional vaccination centers are planned in the coming weeks on Marine Corps Air Station New River. Herbert stresses until then, safety is a high priority and anyone getting the vaccine must adhere to the same Centers for Disease Control and Prevention standards that have been in place for months.