Vermont National Guard Public Affairs
Vermont National Guard members will increase staffing support to local hospitals struggling to meet demand in the face of the Omicron COVID-19 surge.
The Vermont Department of Health has asked the Vermont National Guard to shift support from vaccination clinics to provide wrap-around services for local hospitals because Vermont leads the nation in vaccination rate among all eligible groups age 5 and older.
“How the on-going COVID-19 pandemic affects our communities is starting to change,” said Col. Justin Davis, director of plans and operations, Vermont National Guard. “When this first started, almost two years ago, we established an alternate healthcare facility, we augmented the Strategic National Stockpile warehouse, distributed food, conducted testing sites, and helped the State with contact tracing (later called voluntary mapping). Then vaccines became available, and we converted our testing team to a vaccination team. We also added a team at the SNS warehouse to oversee receipt, storage, and distribution of the vaccines.”
In the first months of the pandemic, the Vermont National Guard helped distribute more than 3 million meals and has since received, organized and distributed hundreds of thousands of test kits and personal protective items to medical facilities and schools across the state.
“Vermont leadership specifically requested the VTNG vaccination team work with our immigrant and BIPOC populations because of their professionalism. At this point leaders from the immigrant and BIPOC communities coordinate with State leadership to specifically request our VTNG team and as a result Vermont has a strong vaccination rate among our BIPOC communities,” said Davis.
Training for military federal missions has prepared the Vermont National Guard to meet every request made by state leadership as part of their whole-of-society approach to combatting the COVID-19 pandemic. The Vermont National Guard will now continue to leverage those skills and adapt to the shift in mission.
The specific number of Vermont National Guard personnel and medical facilities where they will work remains under review. Currently, the Vermont National Guard has about 120 members supporting the COVID-19 response, approximately 55 of whom currently contribute to the vaccination team. Fewer than 20 have already begun work providing wrap-around services in the region, but that number and the facilities supported will increase. At this point the Vermont National Guard expects to continue vaccination clinics in addition to hospital support, warehouse operations, test kit assembly and voluntary contact mapping until no longer needed by the state.