La. National Guard assists with vaccine administration

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Louisiana National Guardsmen administer COVID-19 vaccinations to the public at the Louisiana State Fairgrounds in Shreveport, La., Jan. 27, 2021. (U.S. Army National Guard photos by Staff Sgt. Thea James)

By Staff Sgt. Josiah Pugh, LANG Public Affairs Office

NEW ORLEANS – More than 900 Louisiana National Guardsmen remain activated to assist with pandemic operations, to include helping administer the COVID-19 vaccine to residents of the state, Feb. 9, 2021.

Soldiers and airmen are assisting local health authorities by supporting vaccine sites across the state in order to speed up distribution of the vaccine.

Dr. John Vanchiere, chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at LSU Health-Shreveport and the director of Community Outreach for Testing and Vaccination Program, said, “The LANG is integral to our partnership in making this successful. They are assisting us with the logistics at all of our sites with not just traffic control but helping us get patients registered and really keeping things safe, orderly and moving properly and efficiently.”

To date, the LANG has completed 87 hot-shot delivery missions, transporting 1,169 vials of the COVID vaccine.

“We are partnered with the Louisiana Department of Health,” said Capt. Alisha Mahfouz, 159th Fighter Wing. “There are a lot of enthusiastic people all around who are working long and hard hours to make these missions, possible and get as many people vaccinated as we can.”

The LANG also continues to support 18 open medical test sites and 8 open food banks throughout the state, totaling 356,550 administered COVID tests.

“We’ve worked with the National Guard since the beginning of COVID on testing, and it’s been a fantastic partnership,” said Dr. Jennifer Avegno, director of the New Orleans Health Department. “We’re really excited to get it rolled out again now with vaccines.”

Since the spring of 2020, the LANG has packaged 23.7 million pounds of food while operating at eight food banks throughout the state, and handed out 58.6 million PPE while completing 4,936 delivery missions.