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WA Guard supporting vaccine sites

Mobile team is conducting vaccinations at Independent Living Centers for seniors

Staff Sgt. Melinda Grounds, a medic with the 141st Medical Group goes through a questionnaire with a visitor to the mass vaccination site at the Clark County Fairgrounds in Ridgefield, Wash. on Jan. 28, 2021. Photo Credit: Joseph Siemandel.

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CAMP MURRAY, Wash. - As demand for the COVID-19 vaccine climbs, more than 150 Washington National Guard soldiers and airmen are helping the state ensure Washingtonians receive their first dose.

"We are supporting the Department of Health (DOH) with medics to administer the vaccination, along with other soldiers and airmen to help with the logistics and administrative needs with running these mass vaccination sites," said Maj. Gen. Bret Daugherty, the adjutant general. "Our guardsmen have shown in the last year that we are always up to the challenge to help our state and nation."

Guard members are working under the direction of DOH at mass vaccination sites in Spokane, Kennewick, Wenatchee and Ridgefield. A fifth mobile team is conducting vaccinations at Independent Living Centers for seniors who are unable to leave their residence.

Guardsmen integrated with DOH employees and medical professionals quickly at each of the mass vaccination sites to ramp up the number of vaccinations given each day. The state has set a goal to vaccinate 45,000 Washingtonians daily.

"I am just very impressed that they were able to hit the ground running and figure it out in just a couple of days," said Daugherty during a visit to the Kennewick vaccination site.

Gov. Jay Inslee had a similar observation following a visit to the Ridgefield site at the Clark County Fairgrounds.

"We could not be more delighted about how functional this operation has become so quick to bring so many vaccinations at such a critical time," Inslee said.

In Spokane, Guard members streamlined the process after just one day, which decreased the number of providers needed at the site.

"We completely redesigned the process flow the night before to increase throughput and accommodate people with disabilities and in wheelchairs," said Maj. Heidi Leonard, the officer in charge at the Spokane vaccination site. "The integration of the Army and Air components has been great for both sides."

Both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are being administered across the state. The availability depends on what the Department of Health has sent to the receiving county.

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