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Tanker medics from McConnell AFB are fighting COVID-19 in St. Paul

Military health personnel wearing face masks hugging Air Force Lt Col. Lori Walker (left), 22nd Medical Group chief nurse, says goodbye to Air Force Capt. Anderson Wiksell, 22nd Medical Group practice manager, before Walker’s deployment to St. Paul, Minnesota, April 9, 2021. Medics from every military branch are currently supporting 39 Community Vaccination Centers in 19 states across the country, not including the site McConnell’s tanker medics will staff in Minnesota (Photo by: Air Force Senior Airman Alexi Bosarge, Federal Vaccine Response).

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Approximately 25 tanker medics from McConnell Air Force Base 22nd Medical Group help make life-saving vaccines readily available to the American people.

The medics departed Kansas on April 9, 2021, for St. Paul, Minnesota, in support of the Federal Emergency Management Agency COVID-19 response operations. They will join approximately 4,200 total-force personnel across the United States already in support of the federal vaccine effort. These personnel have already administered more than 1.9 million vaccine doses.

"Vaccination is our greatest weapon in the fight against the current pandemic," said Air Force Col. Lee Nenortas, 22d Medical Group commander. "As with almost anything in medicine, it's better to prevent than to try to cure. All of our potential vaccinators, including those of us remaining, have completed extensive training in every aspect of vaccine handling and administration."

The total-force team is supporting 39 Community Vaccination Centers in 19 states across the country, not including the site McConnell's tanker medics will staff in Minnesota.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said in a news release that the vaccination site will receive 168,000 doses over the course of eight weeks, leading to more than 100,000 people being vaccinated.

The medics will be in Minnesota until further notice to help support FEMA and administer thousands of vaccines to Americans.

"It is an honor that we are able to [deploy]," said Air Force Maj. Helena Guerra, 22nd Medical Group commander of troops. "This is the first pandemic in 100 years, so to be able to help get people vaccinated and slow the spread is amazing."

COVID-19 has had a worldwide impact over the past year, making it crucial for vaccines to be widely available.

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