MING administers vaccine to Magic Capital of the World

U.S. Army Spc. Kyle Hurley, assigned to Task Force Spartan, Michigan National Guard (MING), administers the COVID-19 vaccination to residents of Branch, Hillsdale, and St. Joseph counties, Colon, Michigan, Jan 29, 2021. The MING supported the Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joseph Community Health Agency during a public vaccination clinic. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master. Sgt. David Eichaker)

Michigan National Guard

Story by Master Sgt. David Eichaker

COLON, Mich.— The Michigan National Guard recently ascended to a small community with a big claim to fame. The Guard members and local health departments merged to the town of Colon, Michigan, known as the Magic Capital of the World, to assist in administering the COVID-19 vaccination. The village has the home and burial site of Harry Blackstone, Sr., a famed magician.

“We’re a tri-county health department and we are holding vaccine clinics in all three of our counties,” said Rebecca Burns, health officer, Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joseph Community Health Agency. “Each week we hold one clinic in each county and this week, our clinic is in Colon.”

“We wanted to come to some of the smaller communities and offer residents that live in the smaller communities the opportunity to attend a vaccine clinic where they don’t have a long drive,” she said.

The clinic is supporting residents of Branch, Hillsdale, and St. Joseph counties.

“Those who live or work in the tri-county area are welcome,” Burns said. “We’re currently vaccinating those 65 and older, and those in phase 1B subgroup B which are frontline essential workers who have frequent and intense exposure to the public and are unable to maintain social distance.”

Only those residents who have scheduled appointments will receive the vaccine.

“We’re planning on having 300 vaccines administered today,” said Jim Cook, emergency preparedness coordinator, Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joseph Community Health Agency. “We have 300 appointments and 300 doses.”

This isn’t the first time the tri-county health department and the Michigan National Guard have worked together.

“We’ve been working with the Guard since the summer when they came down and helped us with our drive through testing events,” said Burns. “We love working with the Guard as they are friendly, helpful, and fast.”
“We really appreciate they are available and can help us,” she said.

Others echoed the sentiment.

“We had help from the Guard when we did the testing events last summer,” said Cook. “That was an awesome situation and it was good to see them come back on this mission.”

The National Guard, made up of Citizen-Soldiers and Airmen have responded to support the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services in the fight against the novel virus. Guard members have been utilizing their training while giving back to communities.

“We are doing hands-on vaccinations,” said U.S. Army Spc. Daniel Palmer, combat medic specialist assigned to Task Force Spartan, Michigan National Guard. “We’ve helped with observations and other procedures in the vaccination process. Being emergency medical technician certified, we have plenty of experience from vaccinating our units, so this isn’t different other than working with the public.”

“I am very happy to apply the skills I have gained in the Michigan Army National Guard in a real world setting while giving back to the community,” he said.

Having the Guard assist a small town community hasn’t gone unnoticed.

“I think this is really good for residents of a small town to see the Guard come here in a helping capacity,” said Cook. “We don’t get a lot of natural disasters so it’s really nice for the local citizens to see the Guard come down and lend a hand—it’s really rewarding for them.”

“Without the help of the National Guard, it would be very difficult for us to put on an event this large,” he said.

The vaccine brings sense of hope in returning to life pre-COVID-19.

“This is super important to the residents as they miss their families and activities in their communities,” said Burns. “They are hopeful things will get back to normal and we really couldn’t do it without the Guard.”

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