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Georgia National Guard supports mass vaccination sites

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Paula Helms, a religious affairs sergeant with the Savannah-based 165th Airlift Wing, greets patrons in line to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, Feb. 22, 2021, at the Delta Flight Museum in Hapeville, Georgia. The Georgia National Guard is assisting Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency at four COVID-19 mass vaccination sites across the state.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Paula Helms, a religious affairs sergeant with the Savannah-based 165th Airlift Wing, greets patrons in line to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, Feb. 22, 2021, at the Delta Flight Museum in Hapeville, Georgia. The Georgia National Guard is assisting Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency at four COVID-19 mass vaccination sites across the state.

MARIETTA, Ga. – The Georgia National Guard is supporting the state's effort to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to people at four mass vaccination sites in Albany, Clarkesville, Hapeville and Macon.

The Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency (GEMA) and Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) opened the sites Feb. 22. Over 130 Georgia National Guard Soldiers and Airmen are helping.

"Georgia Guardsmen are assisting GEMA in every way we can," said U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Wes Borre, an officer in charge of Georgia National Guard members at one of the four sites. "If a task makes the process more efficient for the medical staff, then Guardsmen are lending a hand."

Tasks include security, traffic support, on-site logistics, command post operations and administrative support.

The vaccination sites operate Monday through Friday and will be supported by the Guard indefinitely.

"We are absolutely prepared to continue this support as long as there is demand for the vaccine," said Borre. "The Guardsmen here are in good spirits."

The partnership between GEMA, DPH and the Georgia National Guard exemplifies the whole-of-state approach the agencies have pursued in combating the pandemic since March.

The Georgia National Guard handles bureaucratic tasks, like traffic and administrative support, so that health care professionals can focus on treating patients instead of paperwork.

"Our GEMA coordinator and the other GEMA staff here have been terrific," said Borre. "We are working as one team to serve Georgians and put an end to this pandemic."

COVID-19 vaccines are only available to Georgia citizens eligible in Phase 1A. This includes people over 65 years old and their caregivers, health care workers, law enforcement and residents and staff of long-term care facilities.

Those eligible must register for an appointment at any of the four vaccination sites.

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