U.S. Army medical personnel with Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) traveled to Camp Simba, Kenya, to administer COVID-19 vaccines in accordance with Department of Defense policy and guidance to help reduce the burden of COVID-19 in high-risk populations and simultaneously mitigate risk to military operations.
After landing on Aug. 19, 2021, CJTF-HOA surgeon cell members administered dozens of COVID-19 vaccines, working in tandem with the 475th Expeditionary Air Base Squadron (EABS) medical team on ground at Camp Simba, inching the camp closer toward their full vaccination goals.
“We are currently around 72 percent and we are working diligently to reach our goal of 100 percent vaccination as soon as possible,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Cristina Hreso, 475th EABS, public health technician.
These vaccination trips have become routine for CJTF-HOA surgeon cell members as they travel between Djibouti, Kenya and Somalia administering COVID-19 vaccines to U.S. service members, partner forces, base employees and contractors.
“It is highly important that everyone is vaccinated,” said U.S. Army Capt. Cassandra Day, deputy surgeon with CJTF-HOA. “Vaccines do not prevent the disease, but they do help to decrease the severity of the disease, decrease the risk of hospitalization and the likelihood of death.”
The vaccine roll out in East Africa is part of a sustained joint effort between CJTF-HOA, U.S. Naval Forces Africa and U.S. European Command and U.S. Africa Command under the direction of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on the region and military operations.
“We understand how important vaccines are to protecting the force and local communities we work with in Africa,” said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Debra Hansel, administrative noncommissioned officer in charge, CJTF-HOA surgeon cell. “We take pride in our contribution to keeping everyone safe.”
Although receiving the vaccine is currently still voluntary, all Department of Defense personnel are encouraged to be vaccinated before the September mandate to protect their health, their families and the communities where they live or serve.