More Than 6,000 Active-Duty Troops Now Tapped to Help with COVID-19 Vaccinations

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Soldiers fill syringes with COVID-19 vaccine.
Soldiers supporting a Miami-Dade community vaccination center fill syringes with COVID-19 vaccine, March 2, 2021, in Miami, Florida. (Jocelyn Augustino/FEMA)

The Pentagon has tapped more than 1,000 additional troops to help with the COVID-19 vaccination effort.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has authorized 10 more teams to support the Federal Emergency Management Agency in administering the vaccine at community centers nationwide, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told reporters Friday.

The Pentagon said about 6,235 active-duty service members, across 40 teams, have been tapped to support COVID-19 vaccination centers, though fewer than one-third of them have actually deployed so far.

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There are now 17 teams, representing a little more than 2,200 service members from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps, deployed to California, New Jersey, Texas, New York, Pennsylvania, Florida, Illinois, North Carolina and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The service members on those teams can administer roughly 52,000 shots per day when operating at full capacity, according to Pentagon statistics.

About 444 more troops will deploy to Ohio and Georgia in the coming weeks, where they could provide about 12,000 vaccinations a day.

The largest teams, known as Type 1, are made up of 222 service members who can administer about 6,000 shots per day. The Type 2 teams have 139 members and can administer about 3,000 shots a day, and the smallest 25-person teams can provide about 250 shots daily.

The newly authorized teams are all Type 2.

FEMA has asked the Pentagon for up to 50 of the largest teams, and another 50 of the medium-sized teams.

In a follow-up statement to the press, the Pentagon said another 65 teams may support vaccination efforts in the future, as conditions allow.

A community vaccination center at California State University in Los Angeles last month became the first to be supported by military service members, when 222 soldiers began offering 6,000 daily vaccine shots.

The Army on Monday further detailed its COVID-19 response, and said that about 950 soldiers are now supporting vaccination centers in Illinois, New Jersey, Texas, California, Florida and St. Thomas.

That includes 222 soldiers from Fort Carson, Colorado, at the California State University site, 139 soldiers from Fort Riley, Kansas, supporting the center at Fair Park Cotton Bowl Stadium in Dallas, Texas, and 23 soldiers from Fort Campbell, Kentucky, supporting centers in Somerset and Paterson, New Jersey.

Another 222 from Fort Campbell are deployed to Chicago, and 139 from Fort Riley are supporting the center at Miami-Dade Community College in Florida, among others.

-- Stephen Losey can be reached at stephen.losey@military.com. Follow him on Twitter @StephenLosey.

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