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Airmen voluntarily receive COVID-19 vaccine

Staff Sgt. Katie Farrell and Staff Sgt. Ian Miller, standing, administer the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to Airmen in the 167th Airlift Wing dining facility Feb. 6, 2021. Farrell and Miller are members of the 167th Medical Group serving in the West Virginia National Guard’s Task Force Medical-East.

Staff Sgt. Katie Farrell and Staff Sgt. Ian Miller, standing, administer the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to Airmen in the 167th Airlift Wing dining facility Feb. 6, 2021. Farrell and Miller are members of the 167th Medical Group serving in the West Virginia National Guard’s Task Force Medical-East.

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. – The West Virginia National Guard’s Task Force Medical-East conducted a vaccination clinic at the 167th Airlift Wing during the wing’s unit training assembly Feb. 6 and 7.

More than 150 Airmen received their first dose of the Pfizer mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, a two-dose vaccination series recommended at least three weeks apart.

The WVNG’s Task Force Medical–East first offered the vaccine to 167th Airmen in late December and again in January. Almost one-third of the 167th’s Airmen have received the first dose of the vaccine and a small group of Airmen have received both doses.

The vaccines are being offered under an Emergency Use Authorization and are voluntary for unit members until full FDA approval.

Lt. Col. (Dr.) Kevin Culbert, 167th Medical Group commander, held an information session Feb. 6 to explain how the vaccine works and address any questions or concerns for Airmen as they decide whether to receive the vaccine. He considered it necessary to educate members given the hesitancy of some to be vaccinated even within the civilian health care community treating COVID-19 patients.

“I’m a physician, not a salesman,” Culbert said, adding how important it is to understand how the mRNA technology works and that it is safe. “I realize there is a lack of information or misinformation (regarding the COVID-19 vaccine).”

Culbert studied microbiology, immunology and virology during his undergraduate education and completed a master’s degree in public health.

Unit members could attend in person or via teleconference to maximize attendance and allow for social distancing. He encouraged all eligible members to educate themselves and strongly consider being vaccinated for the benefit of all.

“It’s helping ourselves and it’s helping the unit, but also your own families, community, and the economy as a whole.”

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