FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Connecticut National Guard medics attended vaccination administration training at the Fairfield Regional Fire School in preparation to support COVID-19 vaccination sites in Connecticut. The training was administered by Fairfield Emergency Medical Services personnel.
Since January, Soldiers and Airmen have provided non-medical support at COVID-19 vaccination sites operated by federally qualified health care centers and local health care facilities. If authorized by the Connecticut Department of Public Health, members of the Guard who are trained medical personnel may be asked to administer the vaccine.
Guard medics who attended the training have been activated under Title 32 US Code 502 (f). Officials hope that Guard support at vaccination sites will help meet the increased demand for vaccinations in the state.
"The medics in the state who are on 502 (f) orders are here to be evaluated on vaccine administration so they can help out the DPH," said Sgt. 1st Class Jasmin Kissane, a Joint Force Health Protection medic. "I think it's great."
Spc. Erik Johnson, a medic assigned to the 142nd Area Support Medical Company, was first activated to support the COVID-19 response in April when the Guard's primary focus was distributing personal protective equipment. The PPE distribution continues. However, Johnson and dozens of his fellow medics are now assigned to support vaccination sites.
"The commodities warehouse is still maintaining its position, distributing PPE to hospitals, nursing homes and various municipalities," said Johnson. "Now the medics are being prepared for if we need to give vaccinations."
After completing their initial training, Army and Air Force medics are required to earn medical continuing education units annually. The training session in Fairfield served to validate vaccination skills the medics previously attained through the military.
"All medics go through vaccine administration when they're in school to become medics, so they are all well-versed in vaccine administration," said Kissane. "This is good information on what to expect from the vaccine, how to prepare, and of course, it's always helpful to have a refresher."
Johnson agreed that training with other experienced medics was helpful.
"In the National Guard, I have had a very good amount of medical experience, and this [the training] is very helpful, and we have more experienced medics here to guide us as well," said Johnson. "It's not every day that we get to do vaccination training."
Kissane is proud to support Connecticut's COVID-19 response and hopes the Guard's support will lead to higher vaccination rates.
"This is the highlight of my Guard career right now, being a part of the COVID vaccine administration," said Kissane. "Hopefully, we can help reduce the spread of the pandemic and eradicate this pandemic."