NEWS | March 8, 2021

Iowa National Guard expands COVID-19 vaccinations

By Senior Master Sgt. Vincent De Groot 185th Air Refueling Wing, Iowa Air National Guard

SIOUX CITY, Iowa – Active-duty service members were vaccinated at the Iowa Air National Guard clinic in Sioux City during the March training weekend.

Two months after the initial rollout of the COVID-19 vaccinations, Iowa Air National Guard clinicians began expanding their efforts to allow additional military members to receive the vaccine at the Sioux City clinic.

During their March training weekend, the 185th Air Refueling Wing clinic began offering vaccinations to their counterparts from the Army National Guard as well as active-duty service members. Because National Guard units are community-based, most Soldiers are geographically separated from their headquarter units where these services are typically provided.

Lt. Col. Tonja Winekauf, a nurse practitioner with the Air National Guard, said she asked for permission to expand vaccinations beyond 185th unit membership to maximize coverage.

“We want to vaccinate as many service members as possible to help prevent the transmission of the COVID-19 virus,” Winekauf said.

According to Winekauf, the Sioux City clinic worked its way through the tiered vaccination schedule during the previous training weekend in February. It was Winekauf’s determination to “get shots in arms” that allowed her to begin offering vaccinations to additional military members.

By getting their vaccination locally, military members who live in western Iowa are spared the six-hour round trip to the state’s Joint Forces Headquarters at Camp Dodge in Johnston.

Winekauf said nearly 200 doses of first- and second-round COVID vaccines were administered during the training weekend. Winekauf said she plans to continue to do her part to ensure as many people as possible are vaccinated to ensure a ready force.