I got the COVID-19 vaccine because...
I got the COVID-19 vaccine because...
CAMP FOSTER, OKINAWA, JAPAN -- For most service members in Okinawa, 2020 has been a challenging year, explains Lance Cpl. Joseph Arredondo. Due to new restrictions, new duties and an inability to see family members, the military community is making the most out of a dynamic situation.
An array of foundations, organizations and leadership personnel working diligently, have found new ways to uplift service members and keep them connected to their loved ones back home.
The United States Naval Hospital on Camp Foster is one of two exclusive locations providing the COVID-19 vaccination across Okinawa. There is a shuttle taking service members up to the hospital where they will wait for the shot in a socially distanced assembly line. There, they may discuss amongst themselves under the Marine Corps Community Services tents and observe the numerous hard-working sailors moving the line forward a newly-vaccinated person at a time.
As thousands of service members are receiving the COVID-19 vaccination, to protect themselves and others, they are given a sticker stating ‘I got my COVID-19 vaccine because…’ This personal memento signifies their own unique reason to receive the vaccine.
“I got the COVID-19 vaccine for my mom,” said Arredondo, an assistant dispatcher with motor transportation, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines, 1st Marine Division. “My mom was laid off, which has been stressful for her because my step dad lost his job as well. It's a battle for money, and she is constantly looking for a job which has been stressful for me too. I got the vaccine because I want to go home to see my mom, help her out and comfort her.”
He explained that her employer had to lay-off employees because they were losing money because of the COVID-19 economic climate. Unfortunately, due to restrictive job availability, she remains unemployed.
“She doesn't know I am getting the shot yet, I wanted to surprise her,” said the Topeka, Kansas, native. “She kept telling me ‘Joseph get the vaccine, Joseph get the vaccine’ and I did, for her. She is the main reason I am here today, but also because of my god-daughter, who has a weak immune system, and elderly family members.”
After his vaccination, Arrendondo received the COVID-19 sticker, to which he showed his fellow Marines. They began asking him questions and sharing their own reasons to be vaccinated.
“The stickers catch people’s attention and make them realize that they are doing something extremely productive, as well as ground breaking,” he said. “I feel it brings people closer together, as me and my fellow Marines came together after getting vaccinated.”
He goes on to say that he believes the stickers are a good idea because they are a conversation starter, and in doing so, spreads knowledge on the importance of taking steps to help end the pandemic.
“To me the most important part of getting the vaccine is keeping your family and loved ones safe,” said Arredondo. “It's a part of doing what we should do to stay healthy and be as functional as possible to minimize setbacks for our shop and family.”
Arredondo believes that receiving the vaccine is a way to lead by example. He explains that the Marine Corps is the world’s best fighting force, and if Marines are vaccinated it communicates to the public that they are doing their part to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
“She is going to be really excited and proud of me when I tell her I got vaccinated,” said Arredondo. “I do not like seeing her stressed because I am really close with my mom. By me getting the vaccine, it is just one less thing for her to worry about. At the end of the day I did this for her.”
For more information regarding the USNHO vaccination guidelines and services please visit https://www.iiimef.marines.mil/Coronavirus-information/COVID-19-Vaccine-Information/
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