Airmen deploy to support Community Vaccination Center in Brooklyn

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Ashley Taylor
  • Federal Vaccine Response

A team of approximately 140 active-duty Airmen from 28 bases arrived at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn to support a state-led, federally supported community vaccination center.

The team arrived in Brooklyn mid-February and is part of the Department of Defense's COVID-19 response operation across the nation.

“Our goal is to get the majority of Americans vaccinated so we can go back to some sense of normalcy,” said Master Sgt. Nitron Campbell, 335th Expeditionary Medical Operations Squadron senior enlisted leader. “We’re all wanting to see our friends and family and go to public places again, so this is just one step in the right direction.”

Working seven days a week, the 335th EMDOS Airmen aim to administer 3,000 vaccines daily, totaling 76,000 as of March 22.

“What I see from this team is flexibility and resiliency, along with a multitude of pride and professionalism,” Campbell said. “The long hours don’t seem to get to them, and they continue to work so hard to make sure Brooklynites are taken care of.”

After arriving at the vaccination center, the team identified a capability to provide more vaccines and built an additional tent to allow for 20 more vaccine stations, for a total of 44 at the center.

“Since we’re new to this mission and learning along the way, there were some hurdles we encountered in the beginning,” Campbell said. “However, the team makes suggestions and adjustments to make this site better for everyone and I’m very proud of all of them.”

The state of New York determined the location of the vaccination centers to support underserved communities. They took many factors into consideration, including ease of accessibility to the vaccine.

“Transit can become a barrier to patients receiving the vaccine, so if we can go to where the need is, it eliminates some of those barriers,” said Lt. Col. Angela Lacek, 335th EMDOS chief nurse. “We were placed in a community that truly needed us. Our job was to bring the vaccines where they were needed, and so far it has been very successful.”

The 335th EMDOS will be deployed to the site for as long as they are required as part of the DoD's COVID-19 response operations in support of whole-of-government efforts. They know their mission is crucial in helping to bring an end to the pandemic.

“My team came from Alabama, and I think we forget sometimes that New York was the epicenter of COVID and this community was hit very hard a year ago,” Lacek said. “It’s amazing when you talk to the community members because you can sense they are overwhelmed and even become emotional when we give them shots. It’s such a great feeling to know we’re really doing a lot of good and how the community is appreciative of us being here.”

Brooklyn community members have taken to social media to share their support and appreciation of the 335th EMDOS Airmen and their collaborative efforts with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“I’m so emotional because this process has been the most unbelievable experience from FEMA and the military, and it runs so efficiently and professionally,” said Marc Goldberg, a Brooklyn community member who recently received his second vaccine. “Back when the pandemic was at its worst, you would hear sirens 24/7 and there was hardly anyone outside. Now you can feel the vibe shifting in the city and it’s so good to know we’re heading back to some sense of normal again.”

U.S. Northern Command, through U.S. Army North, remains committed to providing continued, flexible DoD support to the FEMA as part of the whole-of-government response to COVID-19.