National Guard and FEMA Deployed to Mass Vaccinate Americans



As tens of thousands of his National Guard colleagues descended on the nation’s capital to ensure the peaceful transfer of presidential power, 10 miles up the road, Emmanuel Alfaro was doing what he viewed as the pinnacle of his career in the Guard: administering Covid-19 vaccines to his fellow citizens.

“It’s a highlight, being able to come out and help the public out,” said Mr. Alfaro, a senior airman and medic with the 175th Air National Guard, whose normal duties are helping at health care centers in Maryland.

As the pandemic continues to rage nationwide and a vaccine program to control it struggles, governors are increasingly turning to the National Guard to help expedite the process. At least 16 states and territories are using Guard members to give shots, drawing on doctors, nurses, medics and others skilled in injections.

Many more states are using thousands more Guard personnel for logistical tasks, like putting together vaccine kits and moving them around, logging in patients and controlling lines at state vaccination sites. In West Virginia, for example, about 100 Guard troops are assisting with distribution across the state.

“We are a logistical operation here,” said Maj. Holli Nelson, a spokeswoman for the Guard there. “That is what the military does best.”

The growing presence of the Guard is a stark reminder that even as the country reels from the attack on the Capitol last week, a pandemic continues to roil all the states, which are struggling to expedite a complex vaccine program with no modern precedent.

Since January of last year, 1 in 14 people who live in the United States have been infected with the coronavirus, and at least 1 in 862 have died.

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