Rear Adm. Darin Via, Naval Medical Forces Atlantic (MEDLANT) commander and the senior market manager for the Tidewater Market, visited McCormick gym on Naval Station Norfolk to tour the site of Hampton Roads’ mass vaccination center, Sept. 1.
The center is managed by Commander, Naval Surface Forces Atlantic (SURFLANT), and is executed by personnel from Commander, Naval Air Forces Atlantic (AIRLANT), SURFLANT, and Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command (NMRTC) Portsmouth, with support from Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command (USFFC).
Via commended the volunteers on their willingness to step up and fulfill the duties given to them as medical professionals.
“We have a saying in the medical field which is, ‘One Navy Medicine,’ and that is because Navy medicine is spread across multiple organizations, commands, and platforms. It is magnificent to see Sailors from all over the region coming out to help keep their shipmates healthy and make this as expeditious as possible,” said Via.
The visit allowed Via, along with MEDLANT’s acting Command Master Chief Tanya Jones, Capt. Kevin Brown, USFFC fleet surgeon, Capt. Laurence Kuhn, AIRLANT fleet surgeon, and Capt. Bettina Sauter, SURFLANT fleet surgeon, to share insight and information on the role of the mass vaccination center, and the process for inoculating active, Reserve, and National Guard members of the Armed Forces in accordance with the Secretary of Defense’s (SECDEF) mandate, issued Aug. 24.
Via and Jones were escorted by SURFLANT’s Cmdr. Jon Levenson, who manages the mass vaccination center.
“We aren’t new to mass vaccinations,” said Levenson. “We are bringing Navy medicine directly to Sailors, and making it as convenient as possible for them to get vaccinated.”
Levenson explained the site location was chosen due its proximity to the larger concentration of Sailors still in need of vaccination.
“We know not everyone has a vehicle or a way to get to some of our more remote vaccination sites, so we are here to facilitate a smoother process. It’s easier for commands to get Sailors over to the gym, so being here will directly contribute to getting Sailors ready for the fight,” said Levenson.
The site at McCormick gym is organized and structured to ensure the maximum number of service members enabled to get their COVID-19 vaccine while minimizing time away from work.
“The whole intent of this scheduling system is to do this as quickly and efficiently as possible with the least amount of inconvenience,” said Levenson.
During his visit, Via reiterated the importance of getting vaccinated and how sites such as McCormick gym are playing an important role in keeping Navy Sailors ready and safe from the pandemic.
“Upon the FDA’s full licensure, the Secretary of Defense has mandated the vaccination of all service members, and, based on that guidance, our Sailors are here to get vaccinated so we can ensure our fleet is operationally ready,” said Via.
This visit comes on the heels of NAVADMIN 190/21, 2021-2022 Navy Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccination and Reporting policy, released Aug. 31, stating that vaccination against COVID-19 for all service members is now mandatory.
For more information regarding scheduling appointment times, please coordinate through your command. Alternatively, walk in appointments are also available from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.