Fort Riley has already vaccinated thousands of those located on the base.
Commanding General D.A. Sims says the fort has been fortunate enough to receive a number of vaccines from the Department of Defense. The fort has been following similar phases of the vaccination process as the State of Kansas. They started with their health care workers and first responders, then moved to their deployable personnel.
Fort Riley has also been vaccinating those who are 75 and older who are military beneficiaries, such as retirees. However, Sims says they have not vaccinated many people in that group because most have already gotten their shots from the State.
“All the things we do in terms of wearing face masks and social distancing, all of those are defensive measures. We look at the vaccine as an offensive measure and we can take offensive to the virus for the first time,” says Sims.
Fort Riley will also be sending personnel across the country to help FEMA with vaccination distribution efforts. Sims says he is excited about this effort because they will be helping American citizens.
While the vaccine is still making its way to the general public, Fort Riley is still taking preventative measures which includes the continuation of restricting military personnel from off base activities.
Sims says adjustments to off post activities has been the hardest thing in his six month tenure.
“It impacts our people, they want to go to the bars and restaurants to interact with the community. This community is also exceptional, I mean people told me that when i got here but they undersold it,” says Sims.
Sims says he knows the economic impact the fort has on the Manhattan community and so this decision weighs heavily on him. However, Sims understands the goal is the prevention of loss of life. Fort Riley so far has lost three people on the installation.
“We want to stop the spread. If we stop the spread, then we can go back to all the things we want to do,” says Sims.
If the spread isn’t stopped, then thousands of those on the base cannot work in their off duty establishments. Sims says if they are to maintain their readiness to deploy, then personnel has to remain healthy.