Below are some frequently asked questions by personnel at NAS Patuxent River and the answers from various subject matter experts to help clarify them:
Q: Which COVID-19 vaccine is available on base, and is it still necessary to be vaccinated if you already have the antibodies?
Currently, Naval Health Clinic Patuxent River is only receiving the Moderna [two-shot] vaccine. The Johnson & Johnson [one-shot] vaccine is currently being reserved by the Navy for deployed, austere environments and ships that do not have the storage and medical facilities required for the other vaccines.
Even if you had COVID-19, it is still important to be vaccinated, as the vaccine offers more protection than natural immunity.
Q: What are the base’s plans for offering the vaccine to employees?
It is uncertain when the naval health clinic will receive enough vaccine supply to operate a large scale mass vaccination site at Pax River, so all are advised they may seek the vaccine at other currently available locations operated by the state, county of residence, or private healthcare provider. We do anticipate there will be locally available vaccine in the coming weeks, but do not yet have a projected date.
The state is now vaccinating Phase 3, the general population, including all individuals ages 16 and older. To find a vaccine provider near you by zip code, visit https://covidlink.maryland.gov/content/vaccine/. St. Mary’s County Health Department posts their mass vaccine site available appointments at 4 p.m. each Saturday at https://smchd.org/covid-19-vaccine/ under “Vaccine Clinic Registration,” and also now offers pre-registration.
Q: Will the vaccine eventually become mandatory for all government employees or remain as personal preference?
It is expected that COVID-19 vaccines will eventually become fully licensed and may become a requirement for certain employees in the interest of public and/or employee safety. Currently, all COVID vaccines are available under Emergency Use Authorization and are voluntary. Once licensed, they will be treated like any other vaccine. The requirements for military members may differ from requirements for civilians.
Q: What about individuals who have religious reservations toward certain vaccines and prefer one over another?
Because all COVID vaccines are currently voluntary, individuals may seek the type of vaccine they believe is acceptable. We do not expect to offer a choice of vaccine at Pax River and will have only Moderna in the near future. In the civilian network, you can seek vaccine providers who offer the vaccine you prefer.
Q: I work and live at Patuxent River but have residency is another state due to being married to an active-duty military member. This means I can’t get a vaccine locally because I’m not a Maryland resident, but my work requires me to be on base almost every week. What can I do?
All spouses of active-duty service members are considered resident s of the state and can get the vaccine.
Q: Any guidance on how long a vaccination is good for?
That is to be determined. Initial studies suggest the vaccine is good for at least a year, but that picture is still being developed.
Q: If we’re fully vaccinated, does the mask requirement in the office change?
Currently, vaccination status does not change the requirement to wear masks and maintain social distancing while on station. When the Centers for Disease Control and DoD revise their recommendations, the policy for mask wearing and other precautionary measures can be revised.
Q: If we’re fully vaccinated, will we – both civilian and military – be subject to Restriction of Movement (ROM)?
Based on NAVADMIN 073/21, fully immunized persons generally do not need to ROM before or after travel within the U.S. Be advised, there will be some exceptions.
Q: How are COVID-positive cases on base reported to ensure proper contact tracing is done?
Reports of positive cases should start with the immediate supervisor or a command-designated contact tracer for making quarantine and workplace cleaning determinations. Supervisors should also report the case through their chain of command, per their local protocol.
Q: What are current quarantine rules if I travel 200 miles to another state? What is the rule for visitors coming to Pax from beyond the 150-mile radius?
Travel to Pax as a “red” installation requires a waiver, per current NAVADMIN guidance. The determination for ROM is a separate determination from the authorization to travel. Commanding officers, in consultation with public health advisors, hold the authority to perform risk assessments and final determinations on ROM. Public health officials continue to recommend 14 days of quarantine following known exposure to COVID-19 and following most travel out of the local area, applicable to persons who are not immunized.
Fully immunized personnel can expect fewer restrictions following travel with more information to follow. Check with your command for specific guidance. Those who are immunized must continue to wear a mask and follow all other health protection measures, especially in the presence of unvaccinated persons.
Q: Any indication on when the base’s “Trusted Traveler” program will be reinstated?
The suspension of the Trusted Traveler Program is tied to the HPCON, and Pax River is currently under HPCON Charlie in an effort to better control access to the base. Once community COVID transmissions fall to a point that HPCON Charlie restrictions can be lifted, the base will consider reinstating the program. NAS leadership wants to be sure that when the base transitions back to HPCON Bravo, it will be at a time when the likelihood of reverting to Charlie is minimal.
Q: What’s the difference between immunized and vaccinated?
Immunized means a person has had both doses of a two-shot series vaccine and at least two weeks have passed since the second dose. Alternatively, an immunized person has had a vaccine requiring only one shot and two weeks have elapsed since that shot. A vaccinated person may only be partially immunized when either the final shot has not yet been received or two weeks have not yet elapsed.
Q: Does the base have any charity or community service organizations they’re working with to help local people during these hard times?
The Pax River Chaplain’s Office is working with local charities, such as food banks and shelters, to help those in need in the community. To find out how you can assist, contact RP2 Joseph Mojica at the Religious Programs Center at firstname.lastname@example.org or (301)-342-3811.
Q: With public schools reopening and vaccinations rolling out, when will base daycare reopen?
Daycare is being offered for those employees who are required to come on site to accomplish their work. Specifics related to daycare openings should be directed to the Pax River Child Development Center at (301) 342-7636.
Q: Seems like traffic has increased at Gate 1; are there plans to reopen Gate 3 at least for peak hours?
The security department is organized in shifts and has been affected by positive COVID results and ROMs. The NAS is putting maximum available forces toward traffic mitigation, and is working to expand gate access for a more efficient flow of traffic.
At present, there are five lanes open for Pax River entry/exit – two lanes at Gate 1 and three lanes at Gate 2. Expect Gate 3 to reopen when NAS shifts to HPCON Bravo.
Q: When will the barricades be removed for the departing lanes of Gate 1?
Per the base executive officer, there is no current intention to change Gate 1 operations, the intent being to maintain secure facility checkpoints.
Q: When will the gym be available for the civilian workers?
Once community COVID transmission levels go down to the point that NDW and NAS Pax River determine it is safe to lift HPCON Charlie restrictions, the installation will re-evaluate opening the gym safely to civilians and retirees.
Q: Any talk of the base rec center and pools allowing access for summer activities?
The base commanding officer is aware of the public’s desire to use the facilities. Returning to normal operations depends on the decline of community transmission rates and approval from U.S. Fleet Forces Command.