108th Medical Group administers first doses of COVID-19 vaccine

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Maria Rella
  • 108th Wing

Members of the 108th Medical Group began administering COVID-19 vaccines at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. on Jan. 9, 2021. U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Wayne M. McCaughey, Director of the Joint Staff for the New Jersey National Guard, was the first to receive the vaccine from 108th MDG staff. 

McCaughey expressed his appreciation for the members distributing the vaccine and his hope that each Airman would also be able to get vaccinated.

Public health, medical, and administrative personnel all collaborated to begin administering the doses to wing Airmen.  

The COVID-19 vaccine is being provided to Airmen who are slated to deploy in the near future and those considered mission-essential personnel. The remaining doses will be given to 108th Wing members on a voluntary basis. The number of vaccines available is currently limited, and the NJNG is following Department of Defense phase guidelines when determining priority of vaccine recipients.

In response to the COVID-19 global pandemic, both Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech have produced viable vaccines that have been authorized by the Food and Drug Adminstration for emergency use. The vaccines are administered in two doses, with the second dose being given three to four weeks after the first. The second dose must be the same brand as the first. 

Capt. Crystal Green, a public health officer with the 108th Wing, assisted in screening Airmen, distributing fact sheets, and fielding questions about the COVID-19 vaccine. “We want people to make an informed choice,” said Green. A traditional guardsman, Green also works full-time as an infection control epidemiologist with the New York Department of Health. 

Those receiving the vaccine expressed both elation and relief at the hope the COVID-19 vaccine provides. “I haven’t seen my grandma in over a year,” said Airman 1st Class Caitlyn Vreeland, an intelligence specialist with the 140th Cyber Operations Squadron, “and soon, I will be able to.” A1C Vreeland has volunteered to assist the District of Columbia National Guard following the recent trespassing and destruction incidents at the Capitol and to assist with the presidential inauguration. New Jersey is providing 500 personnel in support of these operations, of whom nearly 100 hail from the New Jersey Air National Guard.