Oklahoma National Guard delivers first COVID-19 vaccines
By Anthony Jones
/ Published December 15, 2020
OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma National Guard, in cooperation with the Oklahoma State Department of Health, successfully delivered the first COVID-19 vaccines today.
Two teams of Guardsmen collected the vaccines early this morning in Oklahoma City and transported them to health care professionals at satellite locations in Oklahoma City, Enid and Woodward.
“The Oklahoma National Guard is proud to have this opportunity to assist our fellow Oklahomans and help bring an end to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Maj. Gen. Michael Thompson, the adjutant general for Oklahoma.
Today’s delivery was the first of many for the Oklahoma National Guard, which has vaccine delivery missions scheduled through Thursday, Dec. 17, with more missions expected to follow as Oklahoma receives additional shipments of vaccines.
To ensure the safest delivery of the vaccines to Oklahomans, only trained health care professionals will be unsealing the ultra-cold containers transported by Guard members in order for them to collect their location’s allotment before resealing the containers and returning them to the National Guard couriers.
The Oklahoma National Guard’s couriers are charged with safely transporting the sealed containers to the satellite sites and assisting health care providers in getting the sealed container to their ultra-cold storage site.
Spc. Martin Gamarra, a resident of Edmond, Oklahoma and member of the Oklahoma Army National Guard’s 90th Troop Command, and Airman 1st Class Andreas Owens, an Oklahoma City resident serving in the Oklahoma Air National Guard’s 137th Special Operations Wing, were the first courier team to deliver vaccines to a hospital in Oklahoma City.
Gamarra, who has been assisting with the Oklahoma National Guard’s COVID-19 response since this spring, said health care providers at each stop today were appreciative of the Guard for playing a part in getting the vaccine to Oklahomans.
“I signed up to help my community and to be able to do it first-hand during the pandemic has been really rewarding for me,” Gamarra said. “When I first signed up, I never thought I’d be working with other branches, let alone the Health Department and it’s awesome to see first-hand how hard these nurses work every day with COVID and seeing the vaccine is a light at the end of the tunnel.”