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Oklahoma Guard delivers state's first COVID-19 vaccine

By Sgt. Anthony Jones | Oklahoma National Guard | Dec. 16, 2020

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OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma National Guard, in cooperation with the Oklahoma State Department of Health, delivered the first COVID-19 vaccines in the state on Dec. 15.

Two teams of Guardsmen collected the vaccines in Oklahoma City and transported them to health care professionals at satellite locations in Oklahoma City, Enid and Woodward.

"The Oklahoma National Guard is proud to have this opportunity to assist our fellow Oklahomans and help bring an end to the COVID-19 pandemic," said Maj. Gen. Michael Thompson, the adjutant general for Oklahoma.

The deliveries were the first of many for the Oklahoma National Guard, which has vaccine delivery missions scheduled through Dec. 17 – with more expected as Oklahoma receives additional shipments of vaccines.

To ensure the safest delivery of the vaccine to Oklahomans, only trained health care professionals will be unsealing the ultra-cold containers transported by Guard members to collect their allotments before resealing the containers and returning them to the National Guard couriers.

Spc. Martin Gamarra of Edmond, Oklahoma and a member of the Oklahoma Army National Guard's 90th Troop Command, and Airman 1st Class Andreas Owens, an Oklahoma City resident serving in the Oklahoma Air National Guard's 137th Special Operations Wing, were the first couriers to deliver vaccines to a hospital in Oklahoma City.

Gamarra, who has been assisting with the Oklahoma National Guard's COVID-19 response since spring, said health care providers at each stop were appreciative of the Guard for playing a part in getting the vaccine to Oklahomans.

"I signed up to help my community, and to be able to do it first-hand during the pandemic has been really rewarding for me," Gamarra said. "When I first signed up, I never thought I'd be working with other branches (of our state government), let alone the Health Department, and it's awesome to see first-hand how hard these nurses work every day with COVID, and seeing the vaccine is a light at the end of the tunnel."

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