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More vaccines in circulation could protect Marines protecting the country

Naval Medical Center is administering the Pfizer vaccine, and a spokesperson says it’s too early to tell if it will be receiving vaccines from any other companies.
Published: Jan. 29, 2021 at 8:08 PM EST
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CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (WITN) - The potential for another major COVID-19 vaccine means more to go around for the few and the proud.

Deploying Marines have already been getting vaccinated on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, and another walk-in clinic for people 75 and older has been set up this week.

“I’d do anything I can to help prevent the virus,” said Retired Sgt. Maj. Larry Coates, who got his vaccine Friday, but has taken plenty of shots overseas. “Just to help prevent what could have possibly happened. Some of them were experimental, some of them were just routine. To me, it’s no different than any other combat situation.”

Leaving their Marines vulnerable to the virus is a major national security risk, Camp Lejeune officials said, as a significant outbreak in a unit could shut it down.

“We’re doing mandatory testing within 72 hours of any unit going anywhere,” said Lt. Col. Brent Turner, who is taking lead on COVID operations for II Marine Expeditionary Force.

The clinic for deploying Marines is capable of vaccinating up to 3,000 patients per day, said Turner.

Naval Medical Center is administering the Pfizer vaccine, per orders from the Department of Defense. But the prospect of adding the Johnson & Johnson vaccine into the mix could potentially give them more flexibility moving forward.

“We need to keep operations going,” said Lt. Erica Monsees, COVID Vaccine Lead at Naval Medical Center. “We’re really excited to be able to give what we can but there’s more needed we need more vaccine, we need more supplies.”

The vaccine could be approved for emergency use by the FDA as soon as next week, but it’s too early to say whether or not Naval Medical Center will be getting the vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson, according to a spokesperson.

But the concern of contracting the virus is already diminished by some of the most vulnerable populations, like Coates.

“In my opinion, people should get the shot,” said Coates. “I see no reason why they shouldn’t.”

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