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Utah National Guard helps vaccination rollout in Utah County

Posted at 6:02 PM, Jan 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-22 21:29:12-05

UTAH COUNTY, Utah — The Utah National Guard has started traveling the state to help with the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

Trading in camo uniforms for scrubs, their first assignment was Utah County.

"In these teams you have PA, Nurses and medics who are trained to administer that vaccine," said Tech. Sgt. Erik Bornemeier with the Utah National Guard.

READ: Gov. Cox calls home Utah National Guard troops from Washington, D.C.

Capt. Jeremy Metzger and Sgt. Bronemeier took a team of six Guard members to Utah County on Tuesday -- their mission was to help out State and County employees vaccinate.

"They are slammed," said Capt. Metzger. "They are super busy, and I think it’s only going to go up."

Along with vaccinations, their mission is to help with anything employees see fit for them to do, like monitoring traffic.

"We don’t want nurses and medical professionals tied up," said Sgt. Bronemeier.

On Thursday, Capt. Metzger said they administered 1,400 vaccines at their one location.

WATCH: Vaccines for Utah residents not meeting demand

"The demand for vaccines is overwhelming," said Capt. Metzger.

Rolling vaccines out at a quick pace is not necessarily what doctors are concerned about.

Dr. Mark Briesacher, with Intermountain Healthcare, said they want to make sure both doses are administered at the right time.

If half of the state received one dose, Dr. Briesacher said only 25 to 30 percent of people would have immunity.

"That is not enough to change the course of this illness," said Dr. Briesacher.

For every 20 people who get the first dose, only 10 are protected and Dr. Briesacher said some of those 10 people are only partially protected.

"Partial immunity could lead to a selection of a more dangerous mutant," said Dr. Briesacher.

READ: How does Utah rank among COVID-19 vaccines administered?

The urgency and demand for a vaccine makes the mission for Guard members ever-more significant.

Guard members are deployed around the world, but helping their community is something they called the greatest honor.

"It helps our economy get back to the normal that we’re needing," said Sgt. Bornemeier. "This is one of the greatest efforts of the pandemic."

The Utah National Guard has received requests from other counties and expect to move throughout the state beginning next week.