Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas announced that DHS’s Operation Vaccinate Our Workforce (Operation VOW) has vaccinated more than 58,000 DHS mission-critical 1A and 1B employees—up from 5,074 employees at the beginning of February. On January 6, there were a total of 8 Veterans Administration Medical Centers providing vaccines to DHS employees. As of April 5, that number has increased significantly to 163 participating centers. DHS and the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) continue to closely coordinate multiple vaccination events across the country for frontline and public-facing DHS employees.
“There is no higher priority than the health and safety of our workforce,” said Secretary Mayorkas. “I am proud of the incredible progress that Operation VOW has made in just two months, thanks to the dedication of the DHS and VHA personnel leading this effort. DHS is committed to protecting our employees by ensuring they have access to the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines.”
Recently, Operation VOW and VHA facilitated several events along the southwest border to vaccinate frontline and public-facing employees.
- On March 16, 175 Group 1A/1B DHS employees received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine during a southwest border vaccination event in Donna, Texas. The event was a coordinated effort led by Operation VOW and hosted by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Donna Processing Center in partnership with the VHA. “The logistics and coordination of this inaugural southwest border event was made possible by the effective collaboration of all federal partners. Their diligent efforts ensured every DHS employee who wanted a shot, received a shot,” said Constance Johnson-Cage, FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer and Operation VOW Vaccinations Events Lead.
- On March 20, 294 Group 1A/1B DHS employees were able to receive a Moderna COVID-19 vaccine during a vaccination event in El Paso, Texas. The event was a closely coordinated effort led by Operation VOW and hosted by the El Paso VA Health Care System. Dr. Herbert Wolfe, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health Security at the DHS Office of the Chief Medical Officer, attended the vaccination event. “Protecting our workforce from COVID-19 by accelerating shots in arms remains a top priority for the Department. Today’s event was made possible through our continued and committed partnership with the Veterans Health Administration. The Operation VOW team is grateful for the steadfast support of world class health care professionals at the El Paso VA Health Care System. Thank you for your sustained efforts to expeditiously vaccinate our workforce.”
- On March 23, 100 Group 1A/1B employees received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine during a vaccination event co-hosted by CBP and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at the Laredo International Airport in Laredo, Texas. “The Laredo Port of Entry is focusing on the health and safety of our workforce,” said Assistant Port Director-Mission Support Operations, Marcelino Rangel, III, Laredo Port of Entry. “Through coordinated efforts with DHS and the VHA, our goal is to provide our officers access to the COVID-19 vaccine to help curb the spread of the virus.”
- On March 26, 218 Group 1A/1B employees received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine during a vaccination event co-hosted by the Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers (FLETC), United States Secret Service (USSS), and CBP on the FLETC campus in Artesia, New Mexico. FLETC Artesia site director, Terry Todd, stated in reference to the vaccination event, “It’s a game changer having vaccinated students. It will greatly reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread and allow more flexibility in our COVID-19 protective posture and protocols.”
Operation VOW prioritized these and other events to protect DHS employees managing the situation at the border. In the coming weeks, Operation VOW and the VHA will continue to hold vaccine events across the country for DHS employees.