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NEWS | Feb. 5, 2021

NCNG helps get COVID-19 vaccine into arms

By Sgt. Lisa Vines North Carolina National Guard

FRANKLIN, N.C. – Soldiers from the 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team deployed to Franklin to support the Macon County Public Health Department by administering COVID-19 vaccinations and entering patient records into the state database.

North Carolina has ramped up its vaccination records efforts and administered over 1 million shots in the state.

Gov. Roy Cooper activated the NCNG to help speed up the state’s vaccination efforts.

The group of Soldiers, Strike Team 11, is stationed in Franklin and working alongside county health personnel at a drive-through vaccination clinic. They have been activated for three weeks so far.

Sgt. 1st Class Jason Bowman, assigned to the 236th Brigade Engineer Battalion and team lead for Strike Team 11, coordinates his team with the health department, ensuring they are ready to go when new vaccine shipments arrive. This week, Macon County received 400 doses.

“We have Soldiers assisting in the sign-in process; then they pull around to the back of the building where our medics are assisting the nurses in giving the vaccinations. We’re doing the paperwork and getting it put into the system,” Bowman said.

The system that Soldiers and health care workers use is called COVID-19 Vaccine Management System (CVMS). It enables health care providers to upload patient data, vaccine inventory, vaccine administration, and track much more information that helps the state allocate future doses.

Health care employees and Soldiers working in tandem have been an asset to vaccine distribution.

Ruthie Capaforte, who worked as a breast and cervical cancer nurse before COVID-19, said working together has been great. She now works as a communicable disease nurse during vaccination clinics.

“They’re all very willing to help,” said Capaforte. “We were only able to vaccinate two days a week, and now we’re able to do it all the time, as long as we have the vaccine available.”

This week, Macon County received 400 doses. As soon as those doses became available, Strike Team 11 was on site.

“We’re filling in wherever they need to help get as many shots into arms as possible,” said Bowman.

Team members were happy to assist whenever they could, wherever they could.

“When these orders came up, and they said that we could be part of the solution to coronavirus, that’s what I wanted to do,” said Spc. Trey Pressley, a medic assigned to the 236th Brigade Engineer Battalion and a paramedic when not serving with the NCNG.

North Carolina has strike teams staged across the state to assist local health departments with getting vaccines into as many arms as possible. They will be in place for as long as they are needed.