Feb. 15 (UPI) — Personnel aboard the carrier strike group led by the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower began receiving COVID-19 vaccinations over the weekend, the Navy announced.
The first round of the Moderna vaccine, which requires two doses, delivered a month apart, was scheduled for rollout on Monday for about 6,000 crew, officers and air squadron personnel.
The vaccinations, while the ships are in port at Norfolk, Va., come days before the strike group begins deployment, the Navy said in a press release.
The carrier group’s most recent deployment, in 2020, lasted seven months, and because of the COVID-19 pandemic, included strict social-distancing protocols but did not include port calls.
The strike group includes the Eisenhower aircraft carrier, the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruisers USS Monterey and USS Vella Gulf, and Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Mitscher USS Laboon, USS Mahan and USS Thomas Hudner.
On board the carrier are eight squadrons of Carrier Air Wing 3.
Sailors aboard the USS Thomas Hudner received Pfizer vaccinations on Jan. 23, and will receive their second dose this week.
“The vaccine is a great sign of all-around efforts to ensure health and safety of our Sailors,” said Capt. Joseph A. Baggett, commanding officer of the USS Monterey.
“Many Sailors feel they’re doing their part in helping make this pandemic a thing of the past. They choose to do itfor themselves, families and shipmates,” Baggett said.
Vaccination is voluntary in the Navy, and about 70 percent of Navy personnel offered the vaccine have accepted it — a higher rate than the general U.S. population — USNI reported.
“We’re trying to get the facts out there to dissuade the disinformation that’s in social media and other places with respect to the safety of the vaccine,” Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. John Nowell told reporters last month.
About 80 percent of members of the Eisenhower strike group expressed interest in obtaining the vaccine prior to their deployment.