National Guard giving vaccine

Sgt. Stephen Maynus prepares a dose of COVID-19 vaccine for delivery during a vaccine deployment at Camp Johnson, Vermont, Jan. 4, 2021.

60 soldiers and airmen of the Vermont Army National Guard recently received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The vaccine, which had been delivered to Camp Johnson in Colchester during the last week of December, was administered by medical personnel with the Guard’s 158th Medical Group and staff of the University of Vermont Medical Center earlier this week. Additional doses were scheduled to be given both Wednesday and Friday.

The first group of soldiers and airmen to receive the vaccine were those who are part of upcoming mobilizations and those whose jobs place them at a higher risk of being exposed to COVID-19.

The Vermont National Guard’s supply of vaccines is provided through the Defense Department. The State of Vermont and Department of Veterans Affairs have separate supply channels.

“None of these vaccines are diverted from the state’s allocation for nursing homes or high-risk health care providers,” said Maj. Gen. Greg Knight, the state’s adjutant general.

According to Lt. Col. James McBride, the Vermont National Guard’s chief of operations, service members who are on Title 32, Section 502(f) orders -- those who may be ordered to perform training or other duty in addition to other duties prescribed by law -- are eligible to receive the vaccine. Currently, 122 soldiers and airmen are on active duty to support the state’s COVID-19 response.

Those receiving the vaccine were kept on site for 15 minutes in case they exhibited any reactions to the shot, but it’s reported that no one had an issue with a few noting that they didn’t even feel a sting during the first round.

“Even my flu shot hurt worse than this,” said Staff Sgt. Yolande Allen, who normally performs with the 40th Army Band but is currently working in an elevated-risk environment.

Service members were encouraged to continue wearing masks, wash their hands regularly, practice social distancing, and continue following all state guidelines after receiving the shot.

“Even though you may not get COVID-19, it’s possible that you still might be able to spread it,” Knight said.

Vermont National Guard service members will continue receiving the vaccine as it becomes available through the Department of Defense. Those on orders supporting the COVID-19 response and deploying in 2021 are the first to receive the vaccine.

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