TAMPA, Fla. (AFNS) --
Acting Secretary of the Air Force John P. Roth visited Airmen operating a federally-supported COVID-19 Community Vaccination Center in Tampa, April 16.
Roth was on site to show appreciation to the approximately 140 Airmen, deployed from 25 different bases, serving as part of the whole-of-government vaccination effort for the communities in and around Tampa.
“One of the reasons I leave the Pentagon for opportunities like this is to visit Airmen and Guardians and see the great work they are doing,” Roth said. “To get out and see Airmen and Guardians is always refreshing and I always come back very optimistic with the state of the force, the morale of the force and the talent we have out there.”
Roth also was briefed on 15th Air Force’s instrumental role in providing Air Force support to federal, state, and local vaccination efforts. Under 15 AF, eight Air Force vaccination support teams, spread across five different states, have administered more than 570,000 shots.
“Our approach has always been that we need to do our part and we have capabilities and resources to help out,” Roth said. “We, the Air Force, are making a major contribution. Specifically, with the help of 15 AF, we are able to bring to bear capabilities from our military treatment facilities and other support personnel to help the nation during this crisis.”
Roth toured the federally-supported Type 2 facility accompanied by state and federal officials involved in the site’s operations. By design, a Type 2 facility is capable of distributing 3,000 doses daily; the Airmen-augmented, whole-of-government team in Tampa repeatedly eclipsed 5,000 doses per day at their peak.
“The operations here at the Tampa CVC have ran smoothly and that’s largely due to our partnership with our DoD and FEMA partners,” said Carole Covey, Florida’s state incident commander responsible for the site. “Our community members that come to this site are always praising the professionalism and helpfulness that the service members provide.”
Tampa is one of two vaccination centers under 15 AF that is predominantly supported by Airmen. Greensboro, North Carolina, hosts the other.
As part of the visit, Roth was also able to recognize the hard work and dedication of the Airmen.
“To me, it’s refreshing to see the Airmen and Guardians where they work,” Roth said. “I look forward to being able to thank the few I get to meet to thank them for all they are doing for our nation.”
Lt. Col. Charles Haag, Tampa CVC’s site commander, echoed Roth’s sentiment.
“I am especially pleased at how our Airmen from across the U.S. seamlessly meshed with state, FEMA and contract professionals to concentrate on the mission as requested by the governor,” said Haag. “The DoD is ready to support any way we can, and these Airmen have proven that.”
In addition to supporting vaccination sites, Roth has repeatedly emphasized the need for the Air and Space Forces to remain healthy and ready to execute global taskings. According to Roth, that starts at the ground level with Airmen getting vaccinated themselves.
“It is our duty to protect and defend our nation, and to do that our forces must always be ready,” Roth said. “I strongly encourage all Airmen and Guardians to get the COVID-19 vaccine when it is available to them.”