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News | July 26, 2021

Fort Polk Main Exchange hosts BJACH COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic

By Jean Clavette Graves

 Nearly 100 individuals were vaccinated during a COVID-19 vaccination clinic July 24. The event was hosted by the Fort Polk Main Exchanged for Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital’s Department of Public Health. The clinic was open to all Tricare beneficiaries 12 years old and older along with Department of Defense employees and contractors. The Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines were both available. According to the Center for Disease control both are proven effective against the new Delta variant of the virus.

Col. Samuel Smith, garrison commander, said the goal was to conduct a vaccination event at a location where Soldiers and Families already are.
“We thought doing this at the PX would increase our vaccination rates,” he said. “We also thought doing this in a public venue would motivate those who have been resistant to getting vaccinated. Medical professionals are available to discuss the benefits of vaccination and allow everyone to make an informed decision.”
Smith said he was happy with the turn out and proud of the collaboration between BJACH, the Army Air Force Exchange Service and the garrison team to make the event possible.

“I would encourage Soldiers to get vaccinated because we joined the Army to serve a greater purpose other than ourselves,” he said. “Being selfless is one of our values. If you don’t do it for yourself, think about your parents, your neighbors and those around you. By getting vaccinated you are protecting others.”
This was the first time BJACH had the Pfizer vaccine available. Pfizer is authorized for use by anyone 12 years old and older and many families brought their kids to get the shot.

Oliva Chapman, 13, Anacoco Junior High School student, said she wanted to get vaccinated because she plays sports. Chapman admitted she was the last person in her family to get vaccinated because it was not available for her until now.

Oliva Chapman, 13, Anacoco Junior High School student, said she wanted to get vaccinated because she plays sports. Chapman admitted she was the last person in her family to get vaccinated because it was not available for her until now.

“I’m competing in the junior Olympics this year and I don’t want to get sick,” she said. “Coming to the PX to get the vaccine was very convenient. My dad brought me here before he drops me off at the pool to hang out with my friends.”

Caleb Proctor, 13, a Leesville Junior High School student, said he wanted to get vaccinated before school starts because he doesn’t want to be responsible for spreading the virus to anyone else.

“I want to have a clear conscience that I can go to school, be around people and not worry about bringing home COVID-19 to my baby brother,” he said. “I like that I was able to get my shot at the PX because afterwards I can get Panda Express for lunch.”

Robert Stuhlman, 15, who attends Deridder High School, said getting vaccinated is necessary.

“A sickness is a sickness and if there is a vaccine, you might as well get it,” he said. “It’s important to get vaccinated because I’ve heard there is a second wave of COVID-19 coming and I think it’s important to get vaccinated before it comes.”

Tekail Buchanan, 16, a Leesville High School student, said he got vaccinated because it’s the best thing to do.

“I want to keep myself and everyone safe,” he said. “I did school virtually last year and it was no fun. I want to go back to school this year and feel confident that I won’t get sick.”

“I think people enjoyed being able to do some shopping, drink their coffee and get their vaccine,” she said. “I want to remind our community, however, that if you are not fully vaccinated please continue to wear your mask, maintain social distance and practice good hand hygiene.”

Salcedo a registered nurse for BJACH said we should all remain vigilant to prevent the spread of this virus.
Editor’s note: Safeguarding national security and the medical readiness of our Soldiers is a priority for BJACH. The Delta variant of the virus is another reason to get vaccinated. This variant spreads easily, with increased rates of sickness and hospitalization. Soldiers, Family Members, retirees and beneficiaries, 18 and older who are interested in volunteering for the COVID-19 vaccine should to contact the BJACH appointment line at 337-531-3011 or self-book at www.tricareonline.com.
Non-TRICARE beneficiaries (civilian employees and contractors) who work on the installation can make an appointment with the Fort Polk Department of Public Health by calling the Occupational Health Clinic at 337-531-6131 or 337-531-2706. Receiving the vaccine protects you, the community, and our Army.

Don't forget to keep your family's information up-to-date in DEERS.