Michigan National Guard
Story by Master Sgt. David Eichaker
CHEYBOYGAN, Mich.— The Michigan National Guard (MING) is on pace to exceed more than 200,000 COVID-19 vaccination distributed across the state this week. In one day, the MING had 82 COVID-19 Vaccination Testing Teams (CVTT) supporting 32 facilities, including a mass vaccination clinic in northern Michigan.
“Today, we’re in Cheyboygan for a mass vaccination clinic,” said Denise Bryan, health office officer for District Health Department 2 & 4, acting in an incident command role. “We have 1000 neighbors and residents scheduled to come in for their first dose vaccine.”
“We are opening at 9 and going until we are completely done—getting those doses in people’s arms,” she said.
Local health departments are following the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services guidelines with vaccination priority groups.
“Today, we have 75% of the vaccines aimed at the 65 and older—so the elderly vulnerable population, and about 25% are for the prioritized essential workers,” said Bryan.
Residents who receive today’s first-dose vaccine are scheduled to receive the second dose at another event.
“It’s important to my wife and I because we’re interested in protecting our health,” said Chuck Abshagen, from Onaway Michigan. “We’re concerned about COVID and we’ve been anxiously waiting to get the vaccine.”
“I went online to register and it was very easy, very glad I finally did it, and a month from now we will be getting the second dose.”
Mass vaccination clinics are a team effort. The Michigan National Guard and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services are working a collaborative partnership with local health departments in supporting Michigan’s fight against COVID-19.
“There are a number of functions the Guard is doing,” said Bryan. “They are the eyes and ears to the flow of the process.”
With more than 245 Michigan National Guard members making up CVTTs on duty this week, they are gaining a big understanding what it means to be in the Guard.
“My role is to be one of the team leaders,” said U.S. Army Spc. Anden Arnbruster, 1430th Engineer Company, Michigan Army National Guard, currently with Task Force North. “Team leaders are responsible for making sure people are where they need to be at the right time.”
Aside from community service opportunities, Guard members can also take advantage of educational benefits that are offered.
“I am currently in college so part of the reason I joined is for education benefits,” said Arnbruster. “I was 18 and it was a great way to start my life.”
“I wasn’t really expecting a mission like this but this is what I joined for and this has been a great way to give back to the community,” he said.
The Michigan National Guard isn’t a stranger to working in northern Michigan.
“We have historical relationship with the Guard from the mass testing we did, specifically with Mackinaw City in May and we’re incredibly thankful and impressed with the high caliber assistance the National Guard brings to our clinics,” said Bryan.
“No health department can do this by themselves and the partnership is actually one of the most valuable things I see in my planning process to stand this up, and really make it a smooth operation,” she said.