National Guard to administer vaccines to front line responders

CRANSTON, R.I. (WLNE) – The Rhode Island National Guard opened up a new mass-vaccination site at the site of the Cranston Field Hospital.

It’s where soldiers, first responders, and medical workers are getting vaccinated, but it’ll also be for the public once the vaccine becomes available to more groups.

While National Guard service members will get vaccinated at the clinic, they’ll also administer the vaccines, too.

Technical Sergeant Deirdre Salvas got the shot Thursday. Though the moment happened, fast she says it meant so much.

“The decision to get vaccinated is a personal one for me,” Sergeant Salvas said. “Over the holidays, I lost a family member and family friend who had covid.”

Salvas says the loss hit hard and she knew in order to do her job and keep herself and others safe, this shot was everything.

“This year has been challenging for many of us as far as being away from our families, so I want to be part of the solution that gets us back to being with who we love,” Sergeant Salvas said.

Sergeant Salvas is one of 700 service members in the Rhode Island National Guard to get vaccinated so far.

Captain Amanda Ramirez is part of the operations team for Task Force ‘Care’.

“When we got word that the vaccine was going to be available soon, we immediately began to do site visits to find a location where we could do mass vaccinations, not only for our guards members, but also for health care professionals and the civilian population,” Captain Ramirez said.

The clinic is appointment only and is based on the state’s vaccine tier group system.

Front line workers will check in at the front and go through a screening process. The process is mostly the same for civilians and service members; however, civilian’s information won’t be stored with the National Guard, it’ll instead go directly into RIDOH’s portal.

“One of our medics will administer the vaccine and then they move into the observation area for 15 minutes,” Captain Ramirez said. “Once that’s been completed, then they check out and are given a date for their second appointment 28 days later.”

For Sergeant Salvas, whether it’s at a hospital, nursing home, testing or vaccination site, she says serving her country during a pandemic is an honor.

“I’ve served for 12 years and I come from a military family, so service is part of who we are, it’s the fabric of what my family is,” Sergeant Salvas said. “We just take it one step at a time and address it when it comes. We get through this together.”

Categories: Coronavirus, Cranston, News, Regional News