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Why the U.S. Military Has Priority for COVID Vaccinations

Unspoken in all the lists of who comes first is the military.

I have not seen any mention of the armed forces of the United States and where they fall in the list of vaccination priorities. 

You might recall an earlier Disaster Zone blog post where I highlighted the impact of the coronavirus on one aircraft carrier's combat readiness, see "Navy Captain Relieved from Command of Aircraft Carrier."

The issue is combat readiness. In larger terms it is "force projection." There is also "force protection" that is normally thought of as security missions, for example, nuclear submarines are escorted through Puget Sound by the U.S. Coast Guard. Earlier this summer on Hood Canal I saw one sub with two cargo-like ships with "long tubes" on the cargo ships and about five Coast Guard vessels escorting the movement — that is force protection.

I fully expect that all branches of the military service will be a high priority for getting coronavirus vaccinations, especially those living in very close quarters, like on a ship or submarine. For people who might decry this prioritization of healthy young people getting the vaccine, they don't understand the need to maintain a posture of military readiness at all times. 

At some point there should be a story in the media on this prioritization of military personnel. 


Eric Holdeman is a contributing writer for Emergency Management magazine and is the former director of the King County, Wash., Office of Emergency Management.