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Active duty service members needed for COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness study

COVID-19 vaccination

Chief Petty Officer Harry Warner (right), an enlisted classifier/shipping clerk assigned to Navy Talent Acquisition Group San Antonio, receives the initial dose of the COVID-19 vaccine from Air Force 1st Lt. Sarah Caouette (left), a registered nurse, assigned to the Post Anesthesia Care Unit at Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center.

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas-- A team of researchers is conducting an observational study involving active duty service members who have received COVID-19 vaccines. The Vaccine Effectiveness and Immune Response of SARS-CoV-2 Vaccines in Active Military Personnel study aims to help the Defense Department better understand how well COVID-19 vaccines protect service members.

“The VIRAMP study will assess vaccine protection against both symptomatic and asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection, including emerging variants,” said Air Force Col. (Dr.) Jason F. Okulicz, Infectious Disease physician and principal investigator at Brooke Army Medical Center.

Study participants must:

  • Be active duty service members 18-65 years of age stationed at Joint Base San Antonio.
  • Have received or are planning to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Be willing to provide blood and saliva samples as required throughout the study.
  • Be healthy at the time of enrollment.
  • Not anticipate military separation or deployment within six months of enrollment.

“We know COVID-19 vaccination is key to controlling the COVID-19 pandemic; however, there are many unresolved questions about the durability of protection and the impact of emerging COVID-19 variants,” Okulicz said. “VIRAMP is a DOD-sponsored study that will address these knowledge gaps by analyzing health data, blood, and saliva samples from participants who have received COVID-19 vaccination.”

In order to characterize “breakthrough” infections that might occur, the saliva samples will be evaluated for the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and blood samples will be analyzed to map the antibody response over time. This information will be used to describe social and epidemiologic factors that could be related to infections and may inform additional vaccine strategies to combat the pandemic.

“Volunteers will be asked to self-report vaccination history, and provide a weekly report by completing a survey of their health status to the study team,” Okulicz added.

Active duty service members who are willing to participate in this study or would like more information can call BAMC at 253-924-9416 or Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center at 253-341-6095; or email covidbamc@genevausa.org or covidwhasc@genevausa.org.

“We are actively seeking additional volunteers to reach our enrollment goal of 500 active duty members at JBSA,” Okulicz said. “We have two convenient locations outside BAMC and WHASC, so please contact our study team if you are interested.”

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