NEWS | Feb. 26, 2021

Targeted Vaccination Teams bring partnership, success

By Capt. Jeremy Idleman Missouri National Guard

Missouri National Guard Sgt. Joshua Roth recently was in the right place at the right time because of his assignment with the Missouri National Guard Targeted Vaccination Teams (TVT) working in St. Louis and Kansas City.
 
The teams have been mobilized to assist with COVID-19 vaccinations. Roth, a member of 935th Aviation Support Battalion, had just set up a for vaccination event at Florissant Valley Community College in St. Louis when two seniors became trapped in an elevator. Roth, an emergency medical technician and firefighter in his civilian role, put his training to work.
 
“I’ve done elevator calls plenty of times. Fortunately, the elevator was just high enough and we were able to get the doors open and get the two people out. It was good timing; right place at the right time. Once out of the elevator, we got them the vaccination, through observation and out in a short time.”
 
The targeted vaccination mission is to go to underserved urban areas to vaccinate seniors who may not be able to travel to the mass vaccination events that the Missouri Guard is also helping facilitate. In St. Louis, the sites are selected by the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis and consist of mainly senior living retirement and assisted living facilities.
 
James Clark, Vice President of Public Safety and Community Response, Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, said that they have 71 senior living facilities in their database and are working to get through all of them.
 
“We received a call from governor’s office asking us if we’d be able to assist the National Guard to vaccinate senior citizens in St. Louis,” said Clark. “We immediately understood the need to vaccinate our most vulnerable population. We started contacting these facilities, assessed the need within the facility and within three days we had enough data to know that we were able to embark on this effort.”
 
Capt. Tony Rich, 131st Bomb Wing, is the officer in charge of the St. Louis TVT and called the partnership with Urban League absolutely amazing.
 
“Nothing but professionals.” Rich said. “They take care of where to go and when. They have a great outreach program where they already know the facilities we need to go to.”
 
Another team member, Spc. Griffin Richards, HSC, 935th Aviation Support Battalion, agreed with Rich.
 
“Working with the Urban League has been wonderful,” Richards said. “They like to be very proactive. If they see someone that may need help, they come and ask if they can assist. Everything’s been running smoothly. Everyone comes in ready to work.”
 
While the  Guard’s Mass Vaccination Teams and the TVT missions  have the same goal of getting more people their vaccinations, their delivery strategies are completely different.
 
“The mass vax teams are volume players,” Rich said. “With the TVT’s, we are going into these narrow, niche areas in urban areas; we are targeted, impact players for these urban areas. We are a rapid response force to get as many vaccines as possible to as many people as possible. We are looking at operations 24-48 hours in advance; we have a lot more fluidity.”
 
The TVTs  comprise both Army and Air National Guard service members. Some of the Army personnel are medics that administer the vaccine, while the others assist with logistical tasks, such as data entry, observation and registrations. Recently, the two teams went from eight Guard personnel to 16 personnel each so they can do multiple events per day to more rapidly vaccinate residents.