Local News

National Guard helps speed vaccine roll-out in Durham

Posted January 22, 2021 5:16 p.m. EST
Updated January 22, 2021 6:12 p.m. EST

State health numbers show Durham lags behind the state average in administering vaccines -- but with the help of the National Guard, that's about to change.

Twelve guardsmen arrived at the Durham County Health Department on Wednesday, where they've helped with everything from giving shots to managing paperwork.

National Guardsmen usually train for hurricanes and floods.

Now, they're helping fight a pandemic.

This versatile group of heroes will be helping get vaccines to people in need.

"They have come in and really just hit the ground running, like they’ve been on this team the entire time," said Durham Health Director Rod Jenkins.

Already they are speeding up the roll-out, which has been criticized at times for being too slow.

Since their arrival, the number of administered vaccines show an increase around 10 to 18 percent.

"We’re here. We’re ready. We’re reliable. And we’ll continue to support Durham until the demand says they’re not needed anymore," said a spokesperson for the National Guard.

Jenkins said Durham is certainly at a much better place, and that he looks forward to continued partnership with the guard.

In North Carolina, the National Guard has deployed 26 teams of 6 people to counties including Cumberland, Hoke and Johnston to help address the national emergency.

Lauren Norton, who has been trying to get a shot in Durham, but has not been able to find an appointment, is grateful for their service.

"Clearly we need to have things happening more quickly for all of us who need to be vaccinated," she said.

In a news conference, Jenkins said more relief is on the horizon.

The state is planning to put a mega site in Durham that will be able to vaccinate around 45,000 people a week.

The National Guard spokesperson today said that if other counties or other sites request their help, they are trained and ready to go at a moment's notice.

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