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Army Cpl. Jonathan Leon Camacho, a practical nursing specialist with Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center at Fort Gordon, Ga, injects an Army Reserve Soldier from the 447th Military Police Company with the COVID-19 vaccination, Aug 21, 2021, at Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center (CSJFTC), Miss.
Army Cpl. Jonathan Leon Camacho, a practical nursing specialist with Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center at Fort Gordon, Ga, injects an Army Reserve Soldier from the 447th Military Police Company with the COVID-19 vaccination, Aug 21, 2021, at Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center (CSJFTC), Miss. (Brian Barbour/Arizona Army National Guard)

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(Tribune News Service) — More than half of Ohio Army National Guard members are vaccinated, and Ohio National Guard Adjutant Maj. Gen. John Harris expects that percentage to rise after last weekend, which was a drill weekend for Guard members in Ohio.

"We generally see (vaccination) surges in the numbers over the weekends," Harris said in an interview Tuesday. A Guard spokeswoman said she was working on getting the latest numbers.

As of Jan. 6, 56% of Ohio Army National Guard troops have been fully vaccinated, and another 11% have received a first dose, Harris told the Dayton Daily News last week. He expects the Army vaccination rate to follow that of the Air National Guard, which quickly reached a 90% vaccination rate after commanders set a deadline.

It's that 11% figure for first doses that gives Harris optimism that the Army's rate is headed in the right direction.

"When you look at those first shots, 11% have taken their first shots," the two-star general said Tuesday. "As we get deeper into this process for the Army (National Guard), I expect to see what we saw with the Air National Guard — and that's a pretty significant increase as we approach the mandatory (vaccination) requirement date."

Army Guard members are required to be fully vaccinated by March 31.

"End of March is a long time to wait to get ready, but I'm giving the soldiers the benefit of the doubt. But this medical readiness is nothing new," Harris told the Statehouse News Bureau in a story last week.

Asked Tuesday if he was frustrated with the pace of vaccinations, Harris said the frustration was not with individual soldiers.

"The frustration is just helping soldiers and Airmen weed through the myriad of information, the amounts and amounts of information — some of it correct, some of it incorrect — about the vaccine and helping them get to a decision to get the vaccine," he said. "It's just very confusing."

About 65% of the Guard already deployed is in hospitals in Northern Ohio with 20% in Central Ohio and 15% in the state's Southern half, Harris said.

Some 80 Guard members have been deployed to Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton to assist with staffing, Harris said Tuesday. He expects additional troops will help with a testing center at Dayton Children's by either late this week or by Monday.

Troops are assisting with COVID testing, collecting test samples, he said. They are also assisting with transporting patients within hospitals, helping deliver food and assisting with administrative tasks where needed. Some are also working at cleaning rooms, as well.

Vaccination rates have not prevented the Guard from helping out at area hospitals, Harris said.

"As the needs have increased, he (Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine) has called, and we've been able to meet that demand each time," the adjutant general said.

(c)2022 the Dayton Daily News (Dayton, Ohio)

Visit the Dayton Daily News (Dayton, Ohio) at www.daytondailynews.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


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