Iowa National Guard expands COVID-19 vaccinations to include active duty

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Vincent De Groot
  • 185th Air Refueling Wing

Active duty service members were able to receive a COVID-19 vaccination at the Iowa Air National Guard clinic in Sioux City during the March training weekend.

Two months after the initial rollout of the COVID-19 vaccinations, Iowa Air National Guard clinicians began expanding their efforts to allow additional military members to receive the vaccine at the Sioux City, Iowa clinic.

During their March training weekend the 185th Air Refueling Wing clinic began offering vaccinations to their counterparts from the Army National Guard as well as active duty service members. Because National Guard units are community based, the majority of soldiers are geographically separated from their headquarter units where these services are typically provided.

The idea to expand vaccination efforts was the brainchild of Lt. Col. Tonja Winekauf who works as a Nurse Practitioner with the Air National Guard. Winekauf said she asked for permission to expand vaccinations beyond 185th unit membership in order to maximize coverage.

“We want to vaccinate as many service members as possible to help prevent the transmission of the COVID-19 virus,” Winekauf said.

According to Winekauf the Sioux City clinic had worked their way through the tiered vaccination schedule during the previous training weekend in February. It was Winekauf’s determination to “get shots in arms” that allowed her to begin offering vaccinations to additional military members.

An important motivator to expand vaccination procedures is that it is also saving a significant amount of windshield time for military members. By getting their vaccination locally, military members who live in western Iowa are spared the six hour round trip to the state’s Joint Forces Headquarters at Camp Dodge in Johnston, Iowa.

Winekauf said nearly 200 doses of COVID vaccine were given during the training weekend. She added that they were giving a combination of first and second round shots. Winekauf said she plans to continue to do her part to ensure as many people as possible are vaccinated in order to ensure a ready force.

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