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By Joshua Cohen
The Vermont National Guard now supports the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic with vaccinations for youth in the 5 to 11 age group and booster clinics for the general adult population.
According to Maj. Daniel Dykeman, commander of Joint Task Force Coyote, the first pediatric vaccination clinic was held at the Vermont Guard Armory in Winooski on Nov. 16.
“We vaccinated approximately 150 in the 5-11 age group during the clinic,” Dykeman explained.
Efforts to provide a more relaxed environment for the kids included: “coloring books and toys as well as cartoons on the T.V, working with kids is different, and it went very smoothly.”
Dykeman said task force personnel prepared by completing the necessary training to administer pediatric vaccinations.
"We are ready to fully assist the State with their current vaccine needs, our path moving forward is for the teams to provide both booster and pediatric clinics which will be presented to make the younger children more comfortable to get the shot.”
Meanwhile, the number of booster vaccinations is doubling in some locations, according to Capt. Danielle Bean, the officer in charge of Task Force Coyote’s Team 3.
“Last Wednesday (Nov. 10) we provided approximately 150 booster vaccinations at a location in Burlington, today a week later (Nov. 17) at the same location we are on track to administer 300, we started at 8:00 a.m. and go until 2:00 p.m., so it is a constant flow of people now,” Bean said.
Bean attributes the increased numbers to the local availability of the boosters “in their community, and people feel the urgency to get the vaccine booster due to the Delta variant, they just want to protect their family and friends.”
Bean emphasized Task Force Coyote teams are holding clinics in every corner of the state.
"Administering the vaccine is only part of the work involved, there are many moving parts to provide a successful clinic, in my position I do a lot of work in between clinics ensuring all the logistics and planning are in place.”
Task Force Coyote consists of approximately 60 personnel from the Army and Air Guard. Dykeman said these include vaccinators, administration, and supply personnel.
To date, the Vermont National Guard has supported the overall state effort by administering over 70,000 vaccinations throughout Vermont.