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The Pentagon is considering making COVID-19 vaccinations for troops mandatory once the Food and Drug Administration fully approves the shots, part of ongoing discussions about the next step in the agency’s response.
The Army has started testing recruits for sickle cell trait, or SCT, to identify at-risk Soldiers, as the service plans to screen all Soldiers within a year, according to a U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command medical officer.
Earlier this month, the screening push kicked off to both give Army leaders an idea of how SCT has impacted the ranks, and to help Soldiers combat the lifelong ailment, said Maj. Sean Donohue, command surgeon at TRADOC’s Center for Initial Military Training.
“On the enlisted side, recruits [at basic combat training] are now tested as part of their initial screening exam,” Donohue said. The SCT tests are grouped in “with a variety of other blood samples as part of initial processing.”
Since Nov. 2, roughly 2% of recruits have been diagnosed with the blood disorder, he said, a number on par with the national average.
Unprecedented progress has been made recently on Operation Warp Speed — the effort by the Defense Department, Health and Human Services, other federal agencies and private industry to develop a coronavirus vaccine, an HHS official said today.
In a telephone briefing with reporters, HHS policy deputy chief of staff Paul Mango said, “We’re very, very pleased with where we are.” He was joined on the media conference call by Dr. Janet Woodcock, M.D., the director of the centers for drug evaluation research at the Food and Drug Administration, and Dr. Jay Butler, the deputy director for infectious diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Mango reminded reporters that four of the six vaccine candidates are in phase III clinical trials, and added that the Food and Drug Administration continues to review vaccine safety information on the candidates.
When Hurricane Laura raked Port Arthur, Texas in late August, a group of seven shrimp boat laborers found shelter in a local pool hall.
And when the Category 4 hurricane knocked out electricity, a gas generator was turned on to power the building. But the ventilation inside was far from adequate. The seven people spent all night breathing the odorless gas from the generator, causing severe carbon monoxide poisoning.
Three people were pronounced dead at the scene when police arrived on the morning of Aug. 28, and one was taken to a hospital in Houston. Three others were eventually sent into the care of a joint medical team from the Army Institute of Surgical Research Burn Center and the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medicine Department at the Brooke Army Medical Center on Fort Sam Houston, near San Antonio.
The hyperbaric chamber operated at that installation is one of the very few on the Gulf Coast that’s open for emergencies, and its medical teams maintain a 24/7-ready status for that purpose.