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NEWS | March 25, 2021

USAISR Soldiers on frontline of JBSA-Fort Sam Houston vaccination effort

By Dr. Steven Galvan U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research Public Affairs

Soldiers from the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston are on the frontline of the nationwide COVID-19 vaccination effort.

Four USAISR Soldiers are currently supporting the Brooke Army Medical Center expanded COVID-19 vaccination site at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston at the Training Support Center, Building 4110, 2536 Garden Avenue - up the road from the Capt. Jennifer Moreno Clinic. This location is staffed by Soldiers and civilians from several units on post.

The larger facility is scheduled to increase the vaccination capability for all U.S. Department of Defense beneficiaries in San Antonio, which includes active duty service members and their families, retirees, as well as civilian and contract employees.

“It’s a combined effort. Subordinate units with their great leaders and Soldiers should provide support wherever possible,” said Sgt. Maj. Jennifer Redding, USAISR Senior Enlisted Leader. “Taking care of people is the right thing to do and this mission does exactly that. The USAISR will always answer our nation’s call.”

Staff Sgt. Rachel Hammill is one of the first USAISR Soldiers to augment the vaccination effort.

“I am very excited to be a part of this effort to vaccinate Americans,” she said. “I feel many American people look at Soldiers as strictly warfighters, but it’s not always true and it’s a great feeling to be able to help out on the home front. I also would like to go back to a world where masks are no longer necessary.”

The four USAISR Soldiers will rotate every two months after required training is completed. Their duties will include screening and escorting vaccine recipients, as well as preparing and administering the vaccines.

Hammill’s duties include ensuring individuals are healthy enough to receive the vaccine, delivering the vaccination itself, and then monitoring the status of all patients for 15 minutes to ensure they do not experience adverse reactions.

“I am also tasked to pick up the vaccines from cold storage and make sure we have enough pulled up and constituted for enough doses for the people who come in,” Hammill added. “If we draw up too many, we have to try and find people who want the vaccine, because it will expire six hours after it is drawn up.”

Sgt. Alfredo Ramirez, a medical laboratory specialist at the USAISR, is also among the first four Soldiers to assist in the vaccination effort.

“As part of the core team for the COVID-19 vaccination tasker, I am grateful to be working towards ensuring our American citizens are safe from this awful virus,” Ramirez said. “This feeling is only heightened by the fact that every individual who receives the vaccine is very grateful and enthusiastic to be the next line of defense towards herd immunity.”

The USAISR will rotate Soldiers every two months until the vaccination facility is no longer needed. Until then, they will continue working to do their part to vaccinate everyone who wants the vaccine.

“Despite the hours being long, I feel accomplishment, knowing I am improving the welfare of service members and their dependents, and DOD civilians and contractors,” Ramirez said. “Additionally, I am urging anyone who has not made an appointment to receive the vaccine to make one as it is doing your part for the rest of the population.”