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Maryland National Guard assisting with vaccinations

Story by U.S. Air National Guard Lt. Col. Wayde Minami

Maryland National Guard Mobile Vaccination Support Teams are working hard supporting COVID-19 vaccination efforts around the state.

At Governor Larry Hogan’s direction, the MDNG created the MVSTs to assist state and local health officials in administering vaccinations against the coronavirus in accordance with the state’s COVID-19 vaccination plan.

“This is just another great example of the responsiveness and agility of our National Guard,” Gov. Hogan said. “Whether it was the massive response when the pandemic first hit last spring or the incredibly rapid deployment to the Capitol just recently, they’ve never failed to come through in a crisis.”

Since the MVST effort kicked off on Jan. 6, they have assisted county vaccination efforts in Charles, Prince George’s, Talbot, Anne Arundel, Baltimore, St. Mary’s and Cecil Counties. As of yesterday, Maryland National Guard MVSTs had administered more than 6,000 immunizations against COVID-19 and were supporting an average of six locations a day. These efforts are continuing to ramp up as more counties request support and more vaccine becomes available.

The teams come from both the Maryland Army National Guard and the Maryland Air National Guard. They are composed of medical professionals and support personnel and are fully trained, equipped and prepared for this vital effort.

“Once again, we’re breaking new ground in the fight against COVID-19,” Army Maj. Gen. Timothy E. Gowen, the adjutant general for Maryland, said. “Last year it was helping to protect the most vulnerable at nursing homes. Now, we’re helping get the vaccine to the people who need it most.

Neither of these are traditional military missions, and it really shows the versatility of our citizen-soldiers and citizen-airmen that they can pivot so quickly to tackle new missions.”

In addition to the county-led efforts, the state also has plans to establish mass vaccination sites in Maryland. The MDNG is working closely with state health officials in planning and preparing for the launch of these sites, which may come as soon as early February.

In addition, the MDNG has deployed troops to assist local health departments with operating coronavirus testing sites.

“Our members have substantial experience in supporting these types of facilities,” said Army Col. Eric Allely, MDNG state surgeon. “Last year, they helped set up or operate more than a dozen testing and screening sites across the state.”

Altogether, approximately 375 members of the Maryland National Guard are currently on duty supporting the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.