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    Michigan National Guard Comes From Far Corners to Assist with COVID-19 Vaccinations

    Michigan National Guard COVID response in Lake Ann

    Photo By Capt. Joe Legros | U.S. Army Spc. Charlotte McFarland currently assigned with Task Force Spartan COVID...... read more read more



    Story by Capt. Joe Legros 

    Michigan National Guard

    The Michigan National Guard teamed with the Benzie-Leelanau District Health Department in Lake Ann, Michigan to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to local residents Thursday, January 20, 2021. In total, 336 residents signed up to receive the vaccine during this mass vaccination event held at the Lake Ann Methodist Church Community Center.

    “This is the third event in Lake Ann where we’ve teamed up with the Michigan National Guard,” said event coordinator Autumn Jurek. “Our staff of 40 healthcare providers is small compared to other communities, so we truly appreciate the assistance from our guardsmen.”

    The district health department covers Benzie County with a population of 17,766 and Leelanau County with a population of 21,761, according to the 2019 census. Prior to today’s event, 1,010 residents from these counties have received the COVID-19 vacccination.

    Jurek serves as the health department’s Personal Health Supervisor and Immunization Coordinator.

    “We first received the vaccine in mid-December and immediately administered it to our healthcare providers on December 18, 2020,” said Jurek. “Those medical first responders issued the first vaccines to community members two days later.”

    Jurek’s health department teamed up today with six members of the Michigan National Guard’s Task Force Spartan, which was assembled from multiple units across the state. This particular team is lead by non-commissioned officer in charge Spc. Charlotte McFarland with the 1436th Engineer Company based in Montague, Michigan.

    McFarland is a heavy equipment operator for her engineering unit. As a civilian, she also works full-time as a security officer for Ascension St. Mary’s Hospital in Saginaw, Michigan.

    “I never thought anything like this would happen,” said McFarland, referring to the COVID-19 pandemic. “But serving local Michigan residents as a member of this health team is the most rewarding thing I’ve done as a member of the Michigan National Guard.”

    This is McFarland’s third time assisting the Benzie-Leelanau District Health Department with COVID-19 vaccinations and she expressed satisfaction with how the community is reacting thus far.

    “In one of my previous missions, we had 1,000 residents signed up to receive the vaccine,” shared McFarland. “On the day we administered the shots, 975 people arrived for their appointment. Of those who missed, the majority was due to bad weather.”

    Despite her part-time status with the Michigan National Guard, McFarland’s team has been on full-time COVID-19 orders since December 13, 2020. Along with her engineer unit, the six-member team was assembled from the 1776th Military Police Company in Taylor, the 107th Forward Support Company in Marquette, the 107th Headquarters and Headquarters Company in Ishpeming, the 156th Expeditionary Signal Battalion in Howell and the 177th Military Police Brigade in Taylor. It is truly a statewide effort.

    Michigan National Guardsmen deploy all over the state at the governor’s orders in response to emergency situations such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of the teams have prior medical training which comes in handy when assisting local health departments.

    “We have learned so much by teaming up with our Michigan National Guard counterparts,” said Jurek. “We could not have held such a big event, or administered so many vaccines, without help from these soldiers.”

    Mass vaccine events like today’s in Lake Ann occur all over the state based on a systematic order. Michigan prioritized vaccine allocation within Centers for Disease Control’s guidelines, emphasizing both the protection of people at increased risk and ensuring the continuing function of health care systems and essential services.

    “This really is a team effort,” said Jurek. “Along with the six Michigan National Guardsmen, we also have six community volunteers with various levels of healthcare experience.”

    In this case, the Michigan National Guard plays catalyst for the team by providing both medical expertise and leadership.

    McFarland welcomes local residents at the community center door, quickly cross-checks their name and appointment time, then directs them to the appropriate healthcare provider or volunteer. With 336 members of the community signed up for vaccinations today, 42 residents must be treated per hour in order to serve everyone within the 8-hour schedule.

    Despite the mask covering her face, McFarland’s smile is evident to everyone entering the facility.

    “Getting out into the community and serving local residents—” said McFarland. “That’s what I love most about being in the Michigan National Guard.”

    For more information on the Michigan vaccination phases and priority groups, please visit



    Date Taken: 01.21.2021
    Date Posted: 01.22.2021 14:50
    Story ID: 387411
    Location: TRAVERSE CITY, MI, US 
    Hometown: GRAND RAPIDS, MI, US
    Hometown: LAKE ANN, MI, US

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