National Guard vaccinating tens of thousands of civilians daily

National Guard vaccinating tens of thousands of civilians daily
Staff Sergeant Herbert Lins of the Missouri Army National Guard administers the Covid-19 vaccine to a resident during a vaccination event on February 11, 2021 at the Jeff Vander Lou Senior living facility in St Louis, Missouri. Photo credit Michael Thomas/Getty Images

National Guard Soldiers and Airmen are vaccinating about 72,000 people a day across the country in the Guard's ongoing, year-long effort to help combat the spread of COVID-19, Air Force Maj. Gen. Steven S. Nordhaus told members of Congress Feb. 17.

Nordhaus, director of operations at the National Guard Bureau, updated the House Armed Services Committee on the Guard's progress in supporting health officials during the pandemic.

"Since early January, the National Guard has grown from a few civilian vaccination sites to over 350 sites across 43 states and territories," Nordhaus testified. "As I speak, Army and Air National Guard members are administering, on average, over 72,000 vaccines a day to local citizens. We estimate that since the beginning of our vaccination efforts, the National Guard has administered over 1.2 million vaccines to our civilian population."

Nordhaus said 28,000 members of the Army and Air National Guard are dedicated to COVID-19 operations in all 50 states, three territories and the District of Columbia.

"In 2020 alone, our National Guard members tested nearly 13 million people, provided medical planning support to local communities and conducted warehouse operations to support the distribution of personal protective equipment and medical equipment to hospitals and community medical centers," he said. "The National Guard also provided nearly 550 million meals to families in need, disinfected over 9,600 long-term care facilities, and delivered nearly 37 million masks for frontline workers."

These efforts, Nordhaus noted, have come as the Guard has simultaneously responded to massive wildfires in the West, record-breaking hurricanes, civil disturbances in the nation's capital and dozens of states, and its overseas warfighting mission.

"Not since World War II has our National Guard been called upon to serve in such numbers," he said. "Last June, we had over 120,000 service members supporting missions in our homeland and overseas."

Nordhaus told the committee one of the Guard's top priorities is to administer the vaccine to Guard members and their families, with 71,000 receiving at least the first vaccination so far.

"We will remain laser-focused with our interagency partners, civilian and military leaders, and frontline workers to help vaccinate our citizens and defeat COVID-19," he said. "Every day, tens of thousands of National Guard members – many of whom left their families and civilian jobs – serve on the front lines of this battle, saving lives and minimizing suffering across our nation. The National Guard remains 'Always Ready, Always There.'"