Q. Will vaccines be available at Coast Guard medical clinics? When will they be available?
A. Yes. COVID-19 vaccinations are readily available at Coast Guard clinics for Active Duty and Selected Reserve personnel. Military members should contact their servicing Coast Guard clinic for information on vaccine availability or for recording of vaccine obtained on the Tricare network. The clinic front desk numbers are available on the HSWL app in the Medical Tab under the heading “USCG Clinic Front Desk Phone Numbers” and on the official CG website (www.uscg.mil/Coronavirus) under the “Vaccine Guidance” heading. Active Duty and Selected Reserve personnel, wherever located, have several other options for obtaining COVID-19 vaccinations.
- Personnel under TRICARE may receive their vaccination from their Primary Care Provider or from a pharmacy that takes TRICARE.
- Personnel under TRICARE may receive their vaccination from a Department of Defense military treatment facility.
- The COVID Vaccine is federally funded and may also be available through state and local health departments. A list of Coast Guard clinics supporting all units in the Coast Guard is available at: https://www.reserve.uscg.mil/Portals/2/Documents/PDF/HSWL_HRC_list_SELRES%232.pdf?ver=2018-08-17-135417-933 .
Q. Where will the Coast Guard doses be distributed?
A. Coast Guard clinics are providing COVID-19 vaccinations for Active Duty and Ready Reserve personnel. Military members should contact their servicing clinic for information on vaccine availability or to record vaccine obtained on the Tricare network. The clinic front desk numbers are available on the HSWL app in the Medical Tab under the heading “USCG Clinic Front Desk Phone Numbers” and on the official CG website (www.uscg.mil/Coronavirus) under the “Vaccine Guidance” heading. Additionally, a list of the available clinics offering the COVID-19 vaccination and their phone numbers can be found here.
Q. What should I expect when I receive the COVID-19 vaccine?
A. It is important to understand how your body responds to vaccines. According to the CDC’s article “Understanding How COVID-19 Vaccines Work”, we must first look at how our bodies fight illness. COVID-19 vaccines help our bodies develop immunity to the virus that causes COVID-19 without us having to get the illness. Different types of vaccines work in different ways to offer protection, but with all types of vaccines, the body is left with a supply of “memory” T-lymphocytes as well as B-lymphocytes that will remember how to fight that virus in the future. According to the CDC, getting vaccinated is one of many steps you can take to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. Protection from COVID-19 is critically important because for some people, it can cause severe illness or death. Within the U.S., over 568,000 people have died after developing COVID-19, the majority prior to COVID-19 becoming a vaccine preventable illness.
Q. What are the benefits of getting a COVID-19 vaccine?
A. Getting vaccinated will help prevent you from becoming infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 disease. While many people who become ill with the COVID-19 disease have only a mild illness, others may have serious, life-threatening complications, develop a severe illness, or die. There is no way to know how the COVID-19 disease will affect you, your family, colleagues, neighbors, or shipmates. Even if you are not at increased risk of severe complications, 60% of all infections are transmitted to others unwittingly by persons without symptoms. We still do not fully understand the long-term health consequences of the COVID-19 disease.
As with other vaccines, the COVID-19 vaccination protects you by creating an antibody response without having to experience the infection.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provide additional information and resources regarding COVID-19 vaccine safety, and how vaccine help our bodies develop immunity to the virus that causes COVID-19, at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different-vaccines.html.
Q. Are military members permitted to obtain the vaccine off-base if the opportunity presents itself?
A: Yes, military members are permitted to receive the COVID-19 vaccine off-base if the opportunity presents itself. We encourage members to obtain the vaccine at their servicing clinic, but they are not required to do so. However, if a member is vaccinated off-base, they will be responsible for informing their servicing medical clinic in order for that to be recorded in the member's medical record.
Q. If military members receive the vaccine off-base, will TRICARE cover the expense of the vaccine and will the VA cover if there are any complications down the road?
A. Yes. All military personnel may voluntarily get vaccinated outside of a Coast Guard clinic, but must meet the timeline prescribed by their Commanders, Commanding Officers, and Officers in Charge.
Personnel shall request and retain the hard copy immunization record from the vaccination clinic site. Those members who get vaccinated outside of a Coast Guard clinic shall provide the following information to their cognizant Coast Guard clinic: (1) date the vaccine was administered, (2) the vaccine
name or code, (3) the manufacturer and lot number, (4) the dose administered, and (5) the vaccination site (CVS, Walgreens, etc.) Providing false vaccination information is a violation of Article 107, UCMJ, and may also result in administrative and/or disciplinary action.