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A Force Protected

1 Feb 2021 | Capt. Kelton Cochran 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit

Today Marines and sailors of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) begin to receive their final dose of the two-dose COVID-19 vaccination series. Recently approved for distribution by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), 24th MEU personnel received their first dose in early January, just weeks after supplies were initially authorized for distribution by the Department of Defense (DOD).

In anticipation of an upcoming deployment, the 24th MEU is the first organization of its kind to be granted unit-wide distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine as part of a standardized and coordinated strategy for prioritization by the DOD.

As a force designed for responses to a broad spectrum of potential global crises, the 24th MEU has been conducting both land-based and maritime qualification exercises since September 2020. Center for Disease Control (CDC) and DOD COVID-19 mitigation practices such as wearing face coverings, social distancing, restrictions of movement (ROM) for a minimum of 14 days, and testing prior to exercises have been essential to the planning of these evolutions. These practices have allowed the unit to maintain force readiness requirements while successfully minimizing exposure to COVID-19.

“Our Marines’ and sailors’ opportunity to receive this vaccine is a significant force-multiplier, as it promotes the overall force health protection posture of the unit,” said Lt. Cmdr. Thomas W. Luton, 24th MEU Surgeon.

Although receiving the vaccine remains optional for service members across the DOD, it is highly encouraged by unit and service-level leadership.