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U.S. Forces Korea to receive first COVID-19 vaccines in country

U.S. Forces Korea Commander Gen. Robert Abrams (R, front), confirmed Wednesday that U.S. troops will receive the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. File Photo by Yonhap/EPA-EFE
U.S. Forces Korea Commander Gen. Robert Abrams (R, front), confirmed Wednesday that U.S. troops will receive the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. File Photo by Yonhap/EPA-EFE

Dec. 23 (UPI) -- U.S. troops in South Korea will be the first group in the country to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, and frontline health workers on base will be inoculated first, U.S. Forces Korea said.

USFK commander Gen. Robert Abrams said in a memorandum published online Wednesday the vaccine from Moderna will be rolled out in the "next few days." The Pentagon has said distribution is to begin at Allgood Army Community Hospital at Camp Humphreys.

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"USFK will receive additional shipments of the vaccine to inoculate all eligible USFK-affiliated community members as production and distribution increases," Abrams said.

"I ask that our community remains patient and flexible as the additional shipments arrive."

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U.S. service personnel are not required to take the vaccine, but Abrams urged troops to "strongly consider" immunization.

"This is another tool to protect the force, community and strengthen our 'Fight Tonight' readiness posture," Abrams said.

"I plan to take it when given the opportunity."

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Stars and Stripes reported Wednesday that the military has distributed a vaccine fact sheet, warning of muscle aches, pain and swelling at the injection site, in addition to fatigue, headache and fever.

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"This is normal and indicates your body is creating antibodies to protect you from COVID-19," the fact sheet said, according to the report.

In Japan, home to about 54,000 U.S. troops, the Moderna vaccine will be distributed across six U.S. bases, according to Stripes and American Forces Network Radio.

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USFK has been reporting new cases of the coronavirus, mostly among service members arriving from the United States.

On Monday, the U.S. military said 21 people on base tested positive for COVID-19 after landing at airports, according to Yonhap.

On Sunday, USFK said a South Korean employee at Camp Humphreys tested positive for the coronavirus. The total number of USFK-related cases is more than 460.

South Korea reported a total of 52,550 cases and 1,092 new cases Wednesday.

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