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Guard helps with vaccine push

Arkansas Democrat Gazette


As part of the state's fight against the covid-19 pandemic, about 45 Arkansas National Guard members are activated under orders from Gov. Asa Hutchinson as public health officials work on a plan to further distribute coronavirus vaccines.

While the state is in the first phase of its vaccination plan -- administering the vaccine to health care workers, long-term-care residents and staff members, and some first responders -- a larger number of residents will begin receiving inoculations beginning in February, expanding the need for state workers.

Additional manpower and logistical expertise for the effort could be coming from the Arkansas National Guard.

"And so if the governor needs us for logistics, we're ready to do logistics," said Bob Oldham, a spokesman for the Arkansas National Guard. "If, you know, if the governor needs us to actually put shots in people's arms, hey, we're ready to do that too."

Of the roughly 45 active guardsmen assisting with the pandemic, about 12 are working with state health officials on the planning for the vaccine rollout, Oldham said. The other guardsmen are working in a warehouse managing the distribution of personal protective equipment and assisting contacting tracing efforts.

Some states -- including Maryland, Michigan and Ohio -- also have activated Guard members in their states to assist with vaccine distribution. The Arkansas National Guard has not been called up for vaccine distribution yet, but could be later, according to a spokeswoman for Hutchinson. Continue Reading

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