News | Nov. 5, 2021

As military COVID-19 vaccine mandate looms, DLA Distribution ships vaccines to overseas troops

By Kylie Young, DLA Distribution Public Affairs

To protect the force and defend the American people, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III issued a memorandum directing full COVID-19 vaccinations for all U.S. Armed Forces Aug. 23. Since this mandate, Defense Logistics Agency Distribution has been working tirelessly to ship vaccines for unvaccinated deployed troops.

Between Aug. 23 and Oct. 28, DLA Distribution Susquehanna in New Cumberland, Pennsylvania, has shipped over 534,000 Moderna, over 109,000 Pfizer and more than 185,000 Johnson & Johnson vaccines in over 900 shipments. In addition, DDSP re-distributed more than 6,400 doses to areas where they were needed by troops to meet the Secretary’s requirement.

A forklift drives a pallet of packages onto the back of a truck.
The Defense Logistics Agency receives over 46,000 Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines at DLA Distribution Susquehanna in New Cumberland, Pennsylvania, May 14, 2021. The vaccines were packaged with vaccine accessory kits and sent the same afternoon to U.S. European Command military installations. (Photo by Dawn Bonsell)
A forklift drives a pallet of packages onto the back of a truck.
210514-D-KL823-8694
The Defense Logistics Agency receives over 46,000 Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines at DLA Distribution Susquehanna in New Cumberland, Pennsylvania, May 14, 2021. The vaccines were packaged with vaccine accessory kits and sent the same afternoon to U.S. European Command military installations. (Photo by Dawn Bonsell)
Photo By: Dawn Bonsell
VIRIN: 210514-D-KL823-8694

The vaccines were shipped to 12 countries to ensure all U.S. deployed troops receive a vaccine. However, Navy Cmdr. Mark Rozzell, the officer in charge of vaccine operations at DLA Distribution Headquarters, stated that COVID-19 vaccine shipments to troops have never stopped since December 2020.

“The shipments are a part of our standard process for filling orders and shipping,” he said.

When asked if Distribution re-distributes vaccines from one area to another to ensure all military units have enough on hand, and if Distribution used existing vaccine supplies to provide to deployed troops, Rozzell said, “Redistribution happens between the services. DLA Distribution Yokosuka, Japan, DLA Distribution Sigonella, Italy and DDSP all provided support for repackaging and transshipping, and DLA does not currently maintain any on-hand COVID-19 vaccine inventory. Orders are placed, sent to DDSP and then shipped to medical treatment facilities. We did have a small working stock early in the mission, but this was strictly to support expedited shipping.” 

Since DLA does not stock COVID-19 vaccines and they are usually shipped between five to seven days, DLA is able to maintain the expiration dates of existing vaccines to ensure validity before they are shipped.

Rozzell also indicated there are no current outstanding military service orders for the vaccines.

“Currently, DLA Distribution is not tracking when overseas vaccine shipments to deployed troops will be complete, but the Department of Health and Human Services has reported that the vast majority of troops are vaccinated.”

DLA Distribution delivers Johnson & Johnson vaccines to overseas troops
Anthony Maro, medical mission team worker at Defense Logistics Agency Distribution Susquehanna, Pennsylvania, packages the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine for shipment to overseas troops March 12, 2021. (Photo by Matthew Mahoney, DLA Distribution Public Affairs)
DLA Distribution delivers Johnson & Johnson vaccines to overseas troops
DLA Distribution delivers Johnson & Johnson vaccines to overseas troops
Anthony Maro, medical mission team worker at Defense Logistics Agency Distribution Susquehanna, Pennsylvania, packages the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine for shipment to overseas troops March 12, 2021. (Photo by Matthew Mahoney, DLA Distribution Public Affairs)
Photo By: Matthew Mahoney
VIRIN: 210312-D-VQ057-0002