INDIANAPOLIS – National Guardsmen from across Indiana converged on the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the largest sports venue in the world, to vaccinate thousands of people in March.
More than 300 Guard members administered roughly 4,000 Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines a day during the four-day mass vaccination clinic. Among the Hoosiers vaccinated was Gov. Eric J. Holcomb.
"Our Indiana National Guard ... has been with us every step of the way for every part of this response," said Dr. Kristina Box, the Indiana state health commissioner. "We are so excited to have them here as a critical part of our vaccination team.
"This is the first time that we've been able to have a mass vaccination site here in our state since this pandemic started. I think it's fitting that we are here at this iconic site at this time where we mark the one-year history ... of our first COVID-positive case in the state of Indiana."
Members of the Guard directed traffic into 20 bays at the IMS, where medics and support personnel processed Hoosiers who received their vaccine in the comfort of their vehicle March 5-8.
"It's an honor to see the Indiana National Guardsmen here performing vaccines and controlling the traffic coming in and out of this facility," said Brig. Gen. Dale Lyles, Indiana National Guard's adjutant general, on the first day of the event. "Over the course of the next few days, they will give over 16,000 Johnson & Johnson vaccines for Hoosiers throughout the state, making a big difference in ridding the pandemic from the state of Indiana. It's my honor to serve with each and every one of these Soldiers and Airmen."
Several Guard members at the event will soon mark their one-year anniversary of COVID-19 relief orders.
Spc. Brian Lloyd, a medic with the 76th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, has worked on six missions the past year.
"Security for Camp Atterbury, rental assistance program, long-term care facility testing and care, then back to long-term care facility testing and now the vaccine mission," Lloyd said.
He vaccinated the governor, Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Doug Boles and other VIPs.
"It was an honor to be able to vaccinate the governor and all of those very important people to our state and to be a part of that momentous occasion," Lloyd said.
Boles, a longtime supporter of the Indiana National Guard, expressed a willingness to host more mass vaccination events.
"You start the green flag in the morning and the checkered doesn't end until it's dark. Our team has done an amazing job," Boles said. "The state health folks have done an amazing job and the National Guard has been a blast to work with. It's just really been neat to see an entire community, not just the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but an entire community of Hoosiers come together to help our fellow Hoosiers out."