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Ohio National Guard leaders lead by example in getting COVID-19 vaccinations

“This is a matter of protecting the force. Protect yourself, protect your family, but, most importantly, live your Air Force and Army values and be ready. It’s our responsibility,” Maj. Gen. John C. Harris Jr. said.
Ohio National Guard vaccinations
Maj. Gen. John C. Harris Jr., the adjutant general for the state of Ohio, received his COVID-19 vaccine at Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base in southeast Columbus on Saturday. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by 2nd Lt. Christi A. Richter)

COLUMBUS — A group of Ohio National Guard senior leaders received their initial COVID-19 vaccinations Saturday at Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base in southeast Columbus. 

Maj. Gen. John C. Harris Jr., Ohio adjutant general, was one of the first in line to get his dose of the Moderna vaccine provided by the U.S. Department of Defense and administered by airmen from the 121st Medical Group. 

The U.S. Department of Defense is allocating doses of the vaccine to the Ohio National Guard as part of a pilot program for soldiers and airmen who are performing full-time National Guard duty under Title 10 and Title 32 of the U.S. Code, in Federal Emergency Management Agency-Mission Assignment status, while supporting the state’s COVID-19 pandemic response operations. 

Guard senior leaders got vaccinated early to encourage the organization’s soldiers and airmen to take the vaccine when it becomes available, to help protect themselves, their families and their communities. 

“This is a matter of readiness for us. When we call you, I need you to be ready,” Harris said in a news release. “This is a matter of protecting the force. Protect yourself, protect your family, but, most importantly, live your Air Force and Army values and be ready. It’s our responsibility.” 

Maj. Gen. James Camp, Ohio assistant adjutant general for Air, and Chief Master Sgt. Heidi Bunker, Ohio Air National Guard state command chief master sergeant, also received their vaccinations. 

“If we can’t get more people vaccinated, sooner rather than later, we’re going to be dealing with the COVID-19 environment for quite a while,” Camp said. “The longer we have to mitigate COVID-19 and conduct operational missions at the same time, it’s going to hamper readiness.”

While getting the vaccine is voluntary, Guard members will continue to follow all public health standards issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Ohio Department of Health.