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Defense Dept. to end on-site COVID-19 vaccinations at airports

On-site COVID-19 testing under the Patriot Express program, seen here at Baltimore/Washington International Airport, will end on July 15. Photo by SSgt. Brittany Chase/Air Mobility Command
On-site COVID-19 testing under the Patriot Express program, seen here at Baltimore/Washington International Airport, will end on July 15. Photo by SSgt. Brittany Chase/Air Mobility Command

July 2 (UPI) -- On-site COVID-19 testing at airports involved in the Patriot Express charter flight program will be discontinued, the Air Mobility Command announced.

The program, also known as Cat B or Rotator, is used by thousands of service members and their families for official international travel to arrive at overseas assignments or return to the United States through Baltimore/Washington and Seattle/Tacoma International Airports.

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On-site testing will end on July 15, the AMC said in a statement on Thursday, but program participants must still present evidence of COVID-19 vaccination or appropriate exemption before traveling. U.S. Air Force personnel have administered over 22,000 COVID-19 tests since the program began in November 2020.

"Thank you to all of the airmen who worked diligently for the last seven months conducting testing at our busy Patriot Express terminals," Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost, AMC commander, said in a press release.

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"These efforts decreased confusion amid rapidly changing COVID-19 travel requirements and ensured our DoD families and international partners were kept safe," Van Ovost said.

Defense Department statistics released this week indicate that since the COVID-19 pandemic began, 303,618 cases involving military and civilian personnel, dependents and contractors have been identified, with 4,164 hospitalizations and 357 deaths.

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In an update on Wednesday, Max Rose, senior advisor to the Defense Secretary on COVID-19, said that "over 68 percent of our active duty service members have received at least one dose."

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Rose added that "we've supported over 17 million vaccinations to the American people, as well as, an additional four million to DOD personnel."

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