FRANKLIN, Ind. – Approximately 200 Indiana National Guard Soldiers and Airmen received the COVID vaccine on Dec. 16 at the Johnson County Armory.
The Hoosier Guardsmen who were vaccinated have been on the front lines of pandemic response missions at long-term care facilities, COVID testing sites, protective equipment distribution warehouses and food banks.
Select Hoosier Guardsmen are receiving vaccinations as part of a Department of Defense program that allocated doses separately from the shipments of the vaccine the state of Indiana is receiving for frontline civilian health care workers. Indiana and New York are the first two National Guard states to participate in this pilot Defense Department program.
"In March, we answered the governor's call to stand with the state in the fight against the spread of the virus," said Brig. Gen. Dale Lyles, Indiana National Guard adjutant general. "Our Soldiers and Airmen responded by filling critical roles across the state, standing shoulder to shoulder with our fellow Hoosiers as we tackle this insidious virus."
The Guard members – medics who are trained by Army or Air Force instructors – also took Centers for Disease Control and Prevention courses on administering the COVID-19 vaccine and best practices for patient care and curbside or drive-thru immunizations.
"I have such a strong sense of pride and honor that the Indiana National Guard is helping to lead the way out of the pandemic," said Col. Michael Jones, Indiana Army National Guard state surgeon. "Our Guardsmen, as well as Hoosiers, are better protected by receiving and assisting in the administration of the COVID vaccine."
Since the pandemic response missions began in March, Indiana Guardsmen have been fighting the COVID-19 battle primarily on the defensive with masks and sanitizing and distancing techniques.