RICHMOND, Ky. – A small team of Kentucky National Guard members were on the campus of Eastern Kentucky University during “Move-in Day,” Aug. 13- 14, to assist in administering COVID-19 vaccinations.
Working hand-in-hand with the local health department at this event was part of a longstanding commitment by the Kentucky Guard to the citizens of the Commonwealth to field requests relating to COVID-19 vaccination support.
“Madison County Health Department reached out to us for support of the athletic teams, and our support extended to Move-in Day,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Michelle Bottom, the officer in charge of Mobile Vaccination Team One. Bottom has been providing COVID-19 support since early January.
In two days, Bottom’s team assisted in vaccinating 70 students and parents.
“We have an amazing relationship with the Madison County Health Department, and we’ve come together to support numerous vaccination events,” she said.
For the EKU President, Dr. David McFaddin, the event extended his goals to have a safe semester for his students, staff, and faculty.
“Vaccinations are our most significant opportunity to obtain our goal of a typical semester,” he said. “The higher the vaccination rate we can achieve as a community, the closer we can move to unrestricted daily activities.”
McFaddin was a fixture on-site as students moved into their dormitories, signifying the beginning of a new semester. With the help of his staff and faculty members, he encouraged everyone on-site to get vaccinated at the clinic-style setup offered by the Madison County Health Department and the Kentucky Guard.
“We are excited to partner with the Kentucky National Guard to provide vaccine clinics for our campus community,” he said. “We strongly encourage all eligible EKU students, faculty, and staff to be vaccinated.”
As students began to take notice of the vaccination station, conversations began to occur concerning the vaccine.
“I wasn’t planning on getting the vaccine at this event. I was on the fence about it, but I stayed neutral and listened to what the medical professionals had to say,” said Christen Gibson, a junior studying Broadcasting and Electronic Media.
Gibson, a Somerset, Ky., native, engaged the vaccination team about concerns she had about the vaccine.
After the conversation, Gibson returned and chose to be vaccinated.
“The team from the National Guard and Health Department answered all my questions and concerns with respect,” she said. “The key is respect; shaming someone into getting the vaccine, or not getting the vaccine, is never the right thing to do.”
“It gives me a little bit of extra peace because [now] I don’t have to freak out every time I may have been exposed,” she said.
As COVID-19 continues to affect the lives of many Kentuckians, mobile vaccination teams prove to be a valuable resource to aid in the fight.
“This mission has made me so proud of being in the Kentucky National Guard,” said Bottom. “My team is showing so many Kentuckians that we have not forgotten them; we want them to have the same opportunity to get the vaccine as everyone else.”