Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Alyssa Mojica administers the first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class John McGovern aboard USS Essex (LHD 2), Feb. 3. (U.S. Navy/MC3 Brett McMinoway)

SAN DIEGO, Calif. - Sailors aboard USS Essex (LHD 2) received COVID-19 vaccinations as part of the continuation of the “Controlled Pilot,” or first phase of the Department of Defense (DoD) COVID-19 vaccination plan, Feb. 3. This marked the first time personnel received vaccines aboard a Pacific Fleet warship.

“We’re very fortunate to get [the COVID vaccine] onboard,” said Capt. Kelly Fletcher, commanding officer of Essex. “I believe we’re the first ship on the West Coast waterfront to receive, so it’s a great opportunity and a great time to receive it today.”

Navy personnel are highly encouraged to get the vaccine to protect their health, their families, their community, and lower the public health risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. The vaccine is voluntary while under Federal Drug Administration (FDA) Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) approval.

“This is about taking care of ourselves and our health and well-being,” said Capt. Aaron Taylor, executive officer of Essex. “It’s also about taking care of our families, our shipmates, and our communities.”

“If you’re still on the fence, I recommend getting it,” said Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Alyson Wallace, assigned to Essex’s medical department. “I already received both of my doses and it’s not a bad shot.” She added to speak with your command’s medical department if you need any additional information about the COVID vaccine.

Although access to these vaccines will become more widely available in the future, COVID-19 mitigation measures such as facemasks, physical distancing, frequent hand washing, and staying home when feeling ill are still effective ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Individuals who are vaccinated must still follow all of the health protection measures that the Navy has implemented.

Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Gregory Yhap prepares syringes of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine aboard USS Essex (LHD 2). (U.S. Navy/MC3 Brett McMinoway)

Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Alyssa Mojica administers the first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to Interior Communications Electrician 3rd Class Ashley Draper aboard USS Essex (LHD 2). (U.S. Navy/MC2 Jenna Dobson)