Grand Forks Airmen receive COVID-19 vaccine

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Grand Forks Air Force Base began administering the COVID-19 vaccine to hundreds of mission-essential personnel on Jan. 21.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized the emergency use of the vaccine after careful and rigorous testing. At this time, the vaccine is voluntary, but highly encouraged, for Airmen.

“Within 30 hours of the vaccine shipment arriving on base, all doses had been administered/allocated to base personnel,” said Capt. Timothy Reid, COVID-19 vaccine coordinator, 319th Health Care Operations Squadron. “We did so in following guidelines issued by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Defense.”

The 319th Reconnaissance Wing is following the Department of Defense’s phased approach, which prioritizes healthcare and public safety workers, as well as first responders. The first to be vaccinated included security forces, the fire department and healthcare workers.

Among those vaccinated included Col. Cameron Pringle, 319th Reconnaissance Wing commander.

“I was proud to take this shot and grateful for the efforts that have made this possible for our base,” Pringle said. “I’m excited to play a part in taking care of this community and our wing’s important mission.”

Eligible recipients received the first of two doses and will receive their second dose after 28 days.

“The vaccine followed all trial guidelines laid out by the FDA,” said Reid. “It completed all phases in the FDA-recommended timelines.”

The vaccine has been thoroughly tested and presents no known long-term health effects. It is recommended that Airmen take the vaccine to protect their health, their community, and lower the public health risk associated with COVID-19.

“I chose to get the vaccine for other people,”  said Airman 1st Class Geovanna Ramirez, 319th Security Forces Squadron armorer. “I know I’m not at risk of getting really sick, but there are people I come in contact with that are.”

Following the vaccination, DoD personnel are still required to follow all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, including the use of masks and physical distancing. This status will remain until a large portion of the population has been vaccinated and COVID-19 risks diminish.

Personnel will be notified through their chain of command as the vaccine becomes available to them. Members who receive a vaccination off-base should bring their vaccination card to the immunizations desk to have it documented in their medical record.

For more information regarding the COVID-19 vaccine, please visit