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Guard helping at mass vaccination sites

Guard helping at mass vaccination sites

Story by Joseph Siemandel
Joint Force Headquarters - Washington National Guard

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

“We are supporting the Department of Health 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.”

Guardsmen 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 that 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 quickly to bring so many vaccinations at such a critical time,” Inslee said.

In Spokane, guardsmen 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, officer in charge at the Spokane mass 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.

Vaccines are currently being administered to residents who are in Phase 1A or Phase 1B. To learn more about whether you qualify for the COVID-19 vaccine, please visit the Department of Health’s website at Vaccination appointments can be scheduled through your respective county health department website.