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    NC Guardsman uses his civilian education while supporting COVID-19 vaccine clinic

    NC Guardsman uses civilian education while supporting COVID-19 vaccine clinic

    Photo By Sgt. 1st Class Mary Junell | Second Lt. Zachary Kier, a quartermaster officer with A Company, 230th Brigade Support...... read more read more

    RALEIGH, NC, UNITED STATES

    03.16.2021

    Story by Staff Sgt. Mary Junell 

    North Carolina National Guard

    When the Board of Commissioners in Edgecombe County wanted to know who was receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, Karen Lachapelle, the Public Health Director, gave the task to one of the North Carolina National Guard Soldiers supporting her team.

    Little did she know the length 2nd Lt. Zachary Kier would go to ensure the board had an accurate picture of the data for the vaccine clinics in Edgecombe County.

    "Not only did he look into the system and get the data, he divided it up by zip code so we would know where we needed to target to give more vaccines," Lachapelle said. "He also divided it up by race so we would know where we needed to go."

    Kier, who serves as a quartermaster officer with A Company, 230th Brigade Support Battalion, is currently working towards his Master's degree in public administration with a focus on Emergency Management. He attends the online courses from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, while also activated as part of a COVID Administrative Support Team, deployed to Edgecombe County.

    "I've been taking some data analysis classes, so I've been looking at a lot of the data that we're collecting about our vaccinations and trying to get a better insight into it," Kier said.

    Like many National Guardsmen, Kier was able to take his civilian skills and apply them to his military duties, helping the board of commissioners understand how to reach the under-vaccinated communities in Edgecombe county.

    "You just don't want to reach one area of the community, you want to reach all areas of the community, and it gave us the opportunity to do some outreach and figure out why we were not reaching the minority communities," Lachapelle said.

    Edgecombe County is a majority-minority county where approximately 60% of the population is black, and almost 40% is white. Yet, when Kier looked at the data, those numbers did not correlate to the demographics of people receiving the vaccine.

    "When we looked at the data, we saw that it was flipped," Kier said. "Out of all the people we had vaccinated, about 60% were white, and only 30% were black. So we we're trying to figure out why we were not vaccinating at the correct rate of what the county should be and what we could do about it, and this was all driven by data."

    The data Kier presented helped the local health department develop plans to reach those communities that are not getting vaccinated.

    "Myself and another Soldier are working on some public service announcements and radio advertisements to get out to certain zip codes and certain populations," Kier said. "Eventually, once we get some more vaccines and some more assistance, we're going to start going out to some churches in the black community and bring it right to them to make sure people can get their shot if they want it."

    The data Keir dealt with also affects how many vaccines the county will receive the following week because vaccine distribution is based on the information entered into North Carolina's Covid Vaccination Management System.

    Keir and his team have helped the Edgecombe County Health Department give more than 200 vaccines a day by taking over the data entry and registration processes, in turn providing the nurses more time to give vaccines.

    It's not a glamourous job, but Kier said he and his team were happy to support the mission any way they can.

    "This really is why I joined the Guard," Kier said. "In the commercials, they don't show you sitting around doing paperwork, but this is the important stuff; this is what lets this pandemic end. Even if I play a very small part in ending the pandemic, it's a great honor. At the end of the day, more vaccines in more arms is what it boils down to."

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 03.16.2021
    Date Posted: 03.17.2021 08:35
    Story ID: 391541
    Location: RALEIGH, NC, US 

    Web Views: 476
    Downloads: 0

    PUBLIC DOMAIN