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Global Vikings lead the way on COVID-19 vaccine

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  • By Tech. Sgt. Trevor Saylor, 934th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL AIR RESERVE STATION, Minn. — The 934th Airlift Wing is doing its best to help fight the spread of COVID-19 by administering vaccine immunizations.

To date, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused in excess of 500,000 deaths in the United States. The wing hopes that assisting with vaccination efforts can help the nation stop the spread of the virus, and return life to some semblance of normalcy.

Staff Sgt. Julia Matthews, a medical case manager with the 934th Aeromedical Staging Squadron, administered vaccine shots during the March unit training assembly. “It’s amazing that we get to be part of the light at the end of this tunnel,” said Matthews.  

The 934 AW is administering the Moderna variant of the vaccine, which is a two-dose formula that requires an initial dose followed by a second dose within 6 weeks. Clinical trials have shown the vaccine to be 94% effective in preventing a severe infection from the COVID-19 virus.

Airmen administering the vaccinations were required to attend additional training, which included a mix of in-person and computer-based training, provided by the Centers for Disease Control and the Department of Defense. This training, along with planning by the wing, ensure a smooth process that maximized the number of doses provided to Airmen.

To date, the 934 AW has dispensed more than 1500 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, which is 16% higher than the next closest wing in the Air Force Reserve Command, and plans to continue providing the vaccine as long as possible. Efficiency is crucial to maximizing the number of doses the Wing can provide. Additionally, the vaccination team has worked diligently to ensure that no doses go to waste.

“Under the leadership of Senior Master Sgt. Brad Mortenson, our vaccination team is able to consistently draw extra doses from each Moderna vial, boosting the number of vaccines by 14%,” said Maj. William Wilson, 934 AW public health emergency officer.

The 934 ASTS has focused on optimizing the efficiency of the Points of Dispensing, which works similarly to wing-wide enhanced physicals that were introduced in 2018. These are a by-appointment, pre-scheduled way of delivering vaccines quickly—as many as 160 per hour.

The consistent excellence of the 934 AW has been noticed across AFRC, and the training materials from the wing have been disseminated to other units across AFRC. AFRC asked the 934 AW to brief operational processes in the weekly AFRC public health and emergency operations center call.

“Our success is really due to our ‘slow and steady wins the race’ attitude,” said Capt. Jon Polos, 934 ASTS director of medical operations. “We are delivering a few hundred doses each week and being methodical about it.”