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By Staff Sgt. Alexandra M. Longfellow, Peterson-Schriever Garrison Public Affairs
/ Published February 24, 2021
Col. Patrick Pohle, 21st Medical Group commander, speaks to members of his group prior to their deployment to Tampa, Florida on Feb. 24 at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. The 21st Medical Group is the lead medical team for this state-ran, federally-supported site that will provide vaccinations to the civilian population. (U.S. Space Force photo by Staff Sgt. Alexandra M. Longfellow)
Col. Patrick Pohle, 21st Medical Group commander, speaks to members of his group prior to their deployment to Tampa, Florida on Feb. 24 at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. Over 45 members assigned to the 21st Medical Group deployed in support of the national pandemic vaccination program. The military’s critical role in supporting sites will help to vaccinate thousands of people every day and it will ensure that every American who wants a vaccine receives one. (U.S. Space Force photo by Staff Sgt. Alexandra M. Longfellow)
Over 45 members assigned to the 21st Medical Group deployed to Tampa, Florida, in support of the national pandemic vaccination program, Feb. 24, 2021.
The 21st Medical Group is the lead medical team for this state-ran, federally-supported site that will provide vaccinations to the civilian population.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III has approved the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s request to augment and expedite vaccinations across the country. Secretary Austin ordered the contingent of more than 1,000 active duty military personnel to support state vaccination sites.
“The Department of Defense must help the federal government move further and faster to eradicate the devastating effects of the coronavirus,” said Secretary Austin.
It took support from the entire 21st Medical Group to ensure the medics were fully prepared to complete the short-notice deployment orders.
“This mission was one of the largest the 21st MDG has had the opportunity to send out in such a short notice. Our medics are always ready and as such they were ready to support this request right away! This was a team effort. Our deployers were getting ready to depart while the rest of the team in the medical group and across the garrison was assisting to provide any last minute training or clearances to support their departure. Completing this key deployment in such a short-notice is a direct reflection of the commitment and support across all levels of Peterson-Schriever Garrison experienced throughout this pandemic,” said Tech. Sgt. Lauren Everitt Johnson, 21st Medical Group Medical Readiness and Commander Support Staff flight chief.
This is a whole-of-government effort and the military’s role in supporting vaccination sites will help to ensure that every American who wants a vaccine receives one.
“The deployed team prepared for their mission by completing FEMA vaccination [and state] courses and revitalizing vaccination administration skills. The team has been working 14-16 hour days in support of this very special mission and has vaccinated over 16.4K patients since their arrival,” said Charity Harmon, 21st Medical Group emergency manager.
As a result of medics departing to support the Vaccinate America mission, the 21st MDG made adjustments to their regular operations. The 21st MDG continues to conduct COVID-19 testing and vaccination efforts, to provide services focused on maintaining active-duty members’ readiness, and to provide routine and wellness care to enrolled dependents and retirees.
“Our medics remain committed to providing safe care to our patients. As a result, at this time, acute care services for enrolled dependents and retirees are not available due to personnel availability. These services will be deferred to the local military market or to local community resources. However, the 21st MDG will continue to evaluate services and make adjustments to its capabilities as needed to reinstate and return to normal operations as soon as it is feasible,” said Col. Patrick Pohle, 21st Medical Group commander.
The beneficiary category limitations will primarily impact care at the Peterson Clinic. However, overall staffing impacts will reduce some access to care and increase wait times at the Schriever AFB clinic as well.
“The 21st Medical Group looks forward to continuing to partner with our customers, and we appreciate the patience, flexibility and professional interactions as we navigate these changing missions and continue the battle against COVID-19,” said Pohle.