Hospitalman Apprentice Jewel Guese, a sailor assigned to Naval Medical Center San Diego’s Naval Branch Health Clinic, Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, prepares vaccines at the clinic. The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way many facets of healthcare are conducted, and NBHC, MCRD San Diego has adapted some of its techniques and practices to keep both staff and patients safe. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Luke Cunningham)

The U.S. military will offer logistical support to distribute a COVID-19 vaccine once it is available, officials said this week.

Public health and military representatives participated in a Friday teleconference regarding Operation Warp Speed, the government effort to find a vaccine for COVID-19, to go over details, according to Defense.gov.

“The overwhelming majority of Americans will get a vaccine that no federal employee, including the Department of Defense, has touched,” said Paul Mango, the deputy chief of staff for policy at the Department of Health and Human Services. “That said … we have the best logisticians in the world at the Department of Defense, working in conjunction with the CDC, to guide … every logistical detail you could possibly think of.”

The planning, according to the report, includes establishing a 24-hour operations center, akin to those used in hurricane relief, with necessary supplies from needles and syringes to dry ice and trucks.

“Gen. [Gustave F. Perna], and his team … are guiding all of that with scores of folks from both the CDC and the DOD,” Mango said. “We will have an operation center that will tell us at any given time exactly where every dose of vaccine is.”

Military personnel will not administer the vaccine to Americans, Mango said. He also explained that states have the discretion to use their own National Guard personnel in vaccine distribution.

“The federal military will not be involved in moving any doses or injecting any vaccines,” he said, according to Defense.gov.

Meanwhile, the discussion also covered the six vaccine candidates to be studied in clinical trials, and volunteers are still needed, said Dr. Matt Hepburn, vaccine lead for Operation Warp Speed. Those wishing to participate,  should visit coronavirus.gov.

“We are anticipating large-scale clinical trials — 30,000 patients each for these products,” Hepburn told Defense.gov. “Therefore, we do need more people to be willing to sign up … if people are looking for a way that they can help us, help us as a nation, fight this pandemic, one of the ways they can do that is volunteer for these clinical trials.”

– Staff reports

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