AFTAC key personnel receive COVID-19 vaccine
By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs
/ Published February 11, 2021
PATRICK SPACE FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Key personnel from the Air Force Technical Applications Center received their second dose of the coronavirus vaccine that was administered by the 45th Medical Group here.
The group of nearly 100 people received their first dose Jan. 14 and returned to the base’s Sharkatorium today for round two. Another group was able to receive their first dose after the 45th MDG received enough vaccines to distribute to a wider batch of recipients.
One of the people who received the first dose was Dr. Robert Kemerait, an AFTAC senior scientist. Kemerait, who is 85, still reports for duty every day at the nuclear treaty monitoring center. For the past 44 years, Kemerait has been associated with AFTAC, specializing in seismic systems development, data processing and collection, and supporting the U.S. National Data Center.
“I am excited to get vaccinated,” said Kemerait. “I’ve been concerned about the virus, and of course because of my age it was extremely important to take every precaution available. The virus itself and the impact of it is a far greater concern to me than any potential side effects of the vaccine. Having been vaccinated gives me a much greater sense of protection.”
He added, “While I still come to work every day, I’ve limited my exposure as much as possible and only go out for groceries or medication if it’s an absolute necessity. I’m looking forward to getting my second round in a few weeks.”
Other recipients of the vaccine were members of AFTAC’s contingency response team, Airmen who operate the center’s 24/7 watch floor and a few others who are deemed “mission critical.”
“It’s so important that we take every possible precaution to curb this virus, and one of the best ways is to get vaccinated,” said Col. Katharine Barber, AFTAC commander. “Thanks to the partnership with the 45th Space Wing and the professionals at the 45th Med Group, we are doing everything we can to get the vaccine delivered to our Airmen – military and civilian – to ensure we are able to execute our no-fail mission.”
The first round of vaccines was administered to base first responders, healthcare personnel and those in what’s considered the “critical national capability tier.”
AFTAC is the sole organization in the Department of Defense whose mission is to detect and report technical data from foreign nuclear explosions to national decision makers and employs more than 1,000 people responsible for ensuring treaty compliance, and fell into that third category.
"This vaccination opportunity is part of the overall national and international plan to combat COVID-19,” said Brig. Gen. Stephen Purdy, 45th SW commander. “There will be future vaccination rounds required to complete our journey to put COVID-19 behind us.”