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Michigan Guard works with community health departments; administers COVID-19 vaccines

Jan. 19, 2021 | By Webmaster

HASTINGS, Mich.— The Michigan National Guard recently assisted the Barry-Eaton Health Department in the administering of the COVID-19 vaccination to residents of the community. In order to receive the vaccine at the community based event, advanced registration was needed.

“Many of the people are registering for the vaccine through our website and filling out an interest form,” said Sue Thuma, personal health director, Barry-Eaton Health Department. “This lets us know they are interested in receiving the vaccination and then they will receive an email notification when we have appointment slots available.”

The district health department covers both Barry and Eaton Counties, which according to the 2019 census, have a combined 171,818 residents.

“We have clinics scheduled through the end of January right now and we are placing more orders,” said Thuma. “We will be ordering more vaccines as they become available and are doing clinics in both counties.”

Although the vaccine is available, it is being distributed in a systematic order. Michigan has prioritized vaccine allocation within Centers for Disease Control’s phases, with an emphasis on both protecting people at increased risk for severe COVID-19 illness and ensuring the continuing functioning of the health care system and essential services in the community.

“Residents need to be within the appropriate priority group, 1A, 1B, and some of 1C,” said Thuma. “This includes the 65 years of age and over population and we have more than 90 appointments scheduled for today.”
The vaccine appears to be well-received amongst the residents.

“We have had a strong response in people very interested in getting the vaccine,” said Thuma. “The demand for the COVID vaccine is exceeding the appointment slots available.”

The assistance of the Michigan National Guard has proved beneficial.

“We have Guard medics that have been administering the vaccine,” said Thuma. “That’s really helpful for us because as we grow these clinics, we won’t have enough nurses of our own staff to be able to take care of the demand.”

“We also have Guard members serving in the waiting area for residents that received the vaccine and monitoring for adverse reactions,” she said.

Receiving the vaccine is a multiple-step process that involves non-medic assistance.

“I am helping out with the administrative process involved in receiving the vaccine,” said U.S. Sgt. Army Adam Mason 1430th Engineer Company, currently assigned to Task Force Spartan COVID-19 Vaccination Testing Team, Michigan Army National Guard. “I am checking people in, making sure their vaccination cards are good and giving them the necessary information regarding the vaccination.”

This is a first-time experience for the Soldier, who reflects on what this mission means to him.

“It feels great to be on a mission like this helping the community and assist the elderly,” said Mason. “I have been in the Guard for 13 years and this is the first mission where I feel like I am making a big difference.”

Others echoed the sentiment of the Guard assistance.

“Working with the Guard has been wonderful,” said Diane Slocum, registered nurse, Barry-Eaton Health Department. “The Guard gives us more flexibility as we need to be in the observation room or draw up vaccines and the Guard can help draw vaccines as well.”

“It really helps to keep our clinics running smoothly and keeps the process going smoothly and get more people through—it’s been very helpful,” she added.

COVID-19 can have serious complications and receiving the vaccination is an important step in its defeat.

“We know that vaccinating people and giving them some protection is going to help us to eliminate COVID-19,” said Thuma. “It’s critically important to make sure we do all that we can to stop the spread of COVID-19 within our community.”

For more information on the Michigan vaccination phases and priority groups, please visit