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National Guard completes mobile vaccinations in Covington County

Members of the Alabama National Guard have completed its mobile vaccination clinics in Covington County.

In March, Governor Kay Ivey activated the Alabama National Guard to set up mobile sites to bring COVID-19 vaccinations to rural and under-served rural counties throughout the state. Members of the ALNG worked closely with the Alabama Department of Public Health, the Alabama Emergency Management Agency and county EMAs to provide the vaccinations.

The ALNG provided the first round of vaccination doses on March 23 and the second does was administered Tuesday, April 13. Both mobile vaccination sites were held at the Kiwanis Building in Andalusia.

According to Air National Guard Capt. Jaime Braden, about 643 people received the first dose of the vaccine. On Tuesday afternoon, with at least an hour remaining, about 620 had received the second dose.

“We had a very high return rate so far and we aren’t done,” Braden said. “It is too early in the process to determine whether the number of vaccines provided in Covington County is above or below the average across the state, but it’s a positive thing to see the high rate of return in a smaller county. That is an encouraging sign.”

Lt. Col Damon Denzin, a Physician Assistant with the Air National Guard, said the number of Covington County vaccinations are close to those administered in other rural locations they have visited.

“This team has been averaging about 600 vaccinations a day,” Denzin said. “Over the course of three weeks, that’s pretty close to what we do each day and we feel that is really good. When talking about smaller communities, those are encouraging numbers.”

The mobile vaccination effort is a joint operation between the Army and the Air National Guard units from across the state. The team covering Covington County has been setting up in about four counties each week since the governor implemented the mobile vaccination sites.

“We’ve been divided into two teams from the beginning. We have Alpha team covering the southwest and Bravo, our team, is covering the southeast area of the state. Between the two teams we are covering 24 counties,” Braden said.

This past week’s mobile site in Andalusia marked the first stop in the second round of vaccinations. The clinics conclude on April 30 in Barbour County at Baker Hill. At the conclusion of the mobile vaccination sites, efforts will be reassessed, according to Danzin.

“There will likely be other areas where we can assist. We feel there will be more areas where we may be needed down the line, we just don’t have specifics at this time,” he said.

With the ANG mobile site concluded in Covington County, further vaccinations will be available through the health department.

According to the Alabama Department of Public Health, over 2 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered across the state as of April 14. A total of 13,178 doses have been given in Covington County with at least 5,548 people having completed the vaccination series.