Hoosier Guardsmen drive forward in new COVID mission

Indiana National Guard Sgt. Alexander Bennett, from Elkhart and a driver with the 1638th Transportation Company, fills out paperwork for the COVID vaccination at the Johnson County Armory in Franklin, Indiana, Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020. Hoosier Guardsmen have been critical to fighting the coronavirus pandemic - helping at food banks, distributing protective equipment, assisting long-term care facilities - and will now help distribute the COVID vaccination. (Photo: MSG Jeff Lowry)

INDIANAPOLIS — Approximately 150 Indiana National Guardsmen along with personnel from the Indiana Department of Health will help distribute, transport and administer the COVID-19 vaccine to Hoosiers across the state.

“We go when we’re called, and now this new assignment to help deliver the COVID-19 vaccine will be another integral cog to turn the tide in our favor against the coronavirus,” said Brig. Gen. Dale Lyles, the adjutant general and leader of the Indiana National Guard.

Guardsmen will come from the ranks of those who are already involved in the pandemic battle from the long-term care facility and testing-site missions.

Ten teams of medical- and general-support Guardsmen and health department personnel will transport the Moderna vaccine driving health department vehicles.

As long-term care facilities recover, Guardsmen will pivot to the distribution mission and vaccination operations. Yet, facilities with the most urgent need, as determined by the Indiana Department of Health, will still receive Guard support until Feb. 28.

The National Guard’s mission remains vital to the preservation of life, safety and welfare of long-term care facility residents as Guardsmen continue to provide infection control, administrative support and in some cases resident support where needed.