Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton will be a vaccine center. Navy photo

The U.S. Department of Defense announced Wednesday its phased plan to distribute and administer the COVID-19 vaccine from the Naval Medical Center in San Diego and the Naval Hospital in Camp Pendleton.

Meanwhile, Ralphs announced it will partner with the California Department of Public Health and the federal government to provide access to the FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine in Southern California, aligned with the federal roll-out plan.

The DOD is working with the Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.

As one of the 64 jurisdictions to which the United States government has allocated vaccines, the DOD plans to administer its initial allocation of 43,875 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to populations of uniformed service members — both actives and reserves. That includes members of the National Guard, dependents, retirees, civilian employees and select contract personnel.

The department is prioritizing DOD personnel to receive the vaccine based on CDC guidance, first focusing on those providing direct medical care, maintaining essential national security and installation functions, deploying forces, and those beneficiaries at the highest risk for developing severe illness from COVID-19 before other members of the DOD population.

Distribution will be conducted in phases. Due to limited availability of initial vaccine doses, the first phase will distribute and administer vaccines at select locations.

Initial distribution sites — including the two local sites — were selected by the DOD’s COVID Task Force based on recommendations from the military services and U.S. Coast Guard, to best support several criteria:

  • Anticipated supply chain requirements, such as cold and bulk storage facilities.
  • Local population of at least 1,000 priority personnel across the military services.
  • And sufficient medical personnel to administer vaccines and actively monitor vaccine recipients.

The distribution of the allocated COVID-19 vaccines will begin once the Federal Drug Administration authorizes the COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use and in accordance with Operation Warp Speed guidance.

Other distribution sites in the continental United States include Fort Hood, Texas, Joint Base Lewis McChord, Washington, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

Ralphs on Wednesday said its 77 pharmacies throughout Southern California and the Central Coast will help administer the vaccine to a large portion of the population.

“We have been diligent to do our part in the community to stop the spread of the virus by providing free drive-through COVID-19 testing,” said Dr. Linh Lee, director of pharmacy/health & wellness at Ralphs. “Affordable antibody testing is now available at all Ralphs pharmacies, and our team of healthcare professionals are actively preparing for the authorization of the COVID-19 vaccine.”

Updated at 3:05 p.m. Dec. 9, 2020

— City News Service contributed to this report.

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