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    Pa. National Guard supports vaccination clinics for teachers

    Pa. National Guard supports vaccination clinics for teachers

    Photo By Brad Rhen | Spc. Gary Sowash, a combat medic with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2/112th...... read more read more



    Story by Staff Sgt. Zane Craig and Brad Rhen

    Joint Force Headquarters - Pennsylvania National Guard

    FORT INDIANTOWN GAP, Pa. – Nearly 90 Pennsylvania National Guard members are supporting COVID-19 vaccination clinics for teachers and school staffs at seven sites across Pennsylvania.

    A total of 88 Soldiers and Airmen are working at vaccination clinics at seven Intermediate Units, regional educational service agencies that provide a variety of educational and administrative services for their member school districts.

    The clinics are a partnership with the Pennsylvania Department of Education, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency to provide the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine for teachers, child care workers and other school staff.

    “The Pennsylvania National Guard continues to be a proud part of the team fighting the pandemic in our communities,” said Maj. Gen. Mark Schindler, Pennsylvania’s acting adjutant general. “We are honored to support the mission to help vaccinate our teachers and support staff. An important mission of the Pennsylvania National Guard is to support our own communities. Assisting and serving our communities is a personal effort for our service members, as the local communities are where we live, work and train.”

    The Pa. National Guard teams include medical specialists who are trained to perform tasks like administering injections, and general-purpose personnel who can perform non-medical tasks. They are all volunteers who were already on orders assisting in long term care facilities.

    Pfc. Noah Fagnano, Spc. Gary Sowash and Pfc. Jonathan Miller, all combat medics with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2/112th Infantry Regiment, are supporting a clinic at Lancaster-Lebanon IU13 in Lancaster, Pa. More than 500 people were vaccinated on March 11, the clinic’s first day in operation.

    Fagnano, a Williamsburg, Pa., resident, said the mission is very important, and he’s happy to be taking part in it.

    “We give flu shots to the guys, so this is pretty much the same thing,” he said. “Everyone is really happy that we’re here.”

    Sowash agreed that people are very appreciative of the National Guard members, and everyone is treating them really well.

    “Everyone’s been very happy to see us here helping our community, doing our part,” he said. “I love being here. I was on a COVID mission back in April, and as soon as this mission came up I jumped right on it. It’s a great experience.”

    Sowash, a Pleasant Gap, Pa., resident, said missions like this are just as important as combat deployments.

    “You’re still fighting a war; it’s just a virus that you can’t see,” he said.

    Miller said the mission has been a great experience so far.

    “I’m glad we were able to do this and get out in the community,” he said.

    Miller, a State College, Pa., resident, considers the mission part of the process to get people’s lives back to normal.

    “To be able to help get everybody get their lives back to what they were before is nice,” he said.

    First Sgt. Matt Smith, noncommissioned officer-in-charge of the vaccination clinic at Capitol Area IU15 in Enola, Cumberland County, said he was anticipating over 5,000 people getting vaccinated at this site over the next nine days.

    “It’s a great opportunity for the Guardsmen to do something positive in their own community,” said Smith, a Harrisburg, Pa., resident. “They were excited to get the vaccine, and we were excited to be part of doing good in the community.”

    A unique aspect of the National Guard is that it’s prepared, it’s modular, and it’s already in the community, Smith said.

    “I got the notification for this mission last Friday, and here we are six days later with a fully trained complement of Soldiers on site, ready to put vaccines in arms,” he said. “Being local, being trained, and being flexible and ready to execute makes us the natural choice for missions like this.”

    Dr. Andria Saia, executive director at the Capital Area Intermediate Unit 15, said working with the National Guard and the other agencies involved has been an “amazing” partnership.

    “They’ve been awesome to work with and really engaged with what we’re doing and excited to be a part of this,” she said.



    Date Taken: 03.12.2021
    Date Posted: 03.13.2021 11:17
    Story ID: 391288
    Hometown: HARRISBURG, PA, US
    Hometown: PLEASANT GAP, PA, US
    Hometown: STATE COLLEGE, PA, US
    Hometown: WILLIAMSBURG, PA, US

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