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Beating COVID takes vaccine, wingman mindset

  • Published
  • By Kisha Foster Johnson
  • Public Affairs

Col. Brian Moore, Robins Installation Commander, believes following the wingman concept can help beat COVID-19 at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia.

Moore and other installation leadership discussed the pandemic’s impact during the latest Robins Proud Forum held Jan. 26 at the 78th Medical Group.

“We have to remain mindful in our actions,” said Moore. “The coronavirus is an enemy we have to combat. So, it’s imperative we do everything in our power to protect one another in order to get through this and continue to complete our missions.”

The panel, which consisted of medical personnel, agreed community collaboration and vaccinations are important in the effort to defeat this public health crisis.

Col. Eric Chumbley, 78th MDG deputy commander, said following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines is a good start in reducing the spread of the virus.

“We are moving in the right direction. Please do not let up on the acceleration. Keep wearing your masks and maintain your six-foot distance, hand hygiene and meeting in small numbers,” said Chumbley.

On Jan. 7, the 78th MDG administered the first round of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

“We have completed phase one vaccinations, which included medical, security forces and fire personnel,” said Col. Dale Harrell, 78th MDG commander. “As we receive more vaccine, we will transition to the next phase, which is the high-risk population and then the general public.”

Capt. Christina Loyke, a physician with the 78th MDG, received the first vaccination at Robins.

“I decided to get the vaccine to protect my patients, my family and myself. I believe the vaccine is safe, effective and the benefits far outweigh the potential risks,” she said.

Currently, Robins remains at Health Protection Condition Charlie. The base moved to this status on Dec. 31. This means an area is experiencing sustained community transmission of the virus.

The installation had been in HPCON Charlie previously during the early stages of the pandemic in March.

1st Lt. Alyssa Boyea, 78th ABW executive officer, knows first-hand how debilitating this virus can be. She tested positive in January and is still recovering.

“I consider myself to be a young, fit and healthy individual and it seems I endured every symptom of the virus,” said Boyea. “I still have no sense of smell. I was severely sick for eight days, but had some symptoms for more than 20 days. I still experience coughing and get short of breath walking up stairs.”  

Boyea said she will get vaccinated at the first opportunity.

Outside the installation, Dr. Dan Stewart, Houston Medical Center’s Chief medical officer, stated as of Jan. 12, the hospital has administered 2,500 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, with 700 hundred of those being second doses.

“The vaccinations have been well tolerated with minimal reactions,” said Stewart. “The most important thing you can do to stop the spread is to be vaccinated.”

Medical experts on and off Robins continue to urge the public to take extra health protection measures to mitigate the spread of the virus.

“The safety of our workforce and the community remains a top priority. If we continue to stay the course by following proper health protocols, we will succeed, because we are better together,” said Moore.