ORLANDO, Fla. - The U.S. military is ramping up efforts to help get as many Americans vaccinated as possible by sending medical teams to vaccine hubs around the country.
The military is already assisting in cities in California, New York, and Texas. On Thursday, deployments to Florida and Pennsylvania were also announced.
The 101st Airborne Division, a light infantry division of the United States Army specializing in air assault operations, will be sending approximately 130 soldiers to Orlando to support the whole-of-government vaccination effort. The soldiers are expected to arrive on Friday.
The 101st Airborne soldiers are part of the U.S. Army’s larger effort to support the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) vaccination centers. The Orlando center will be located at Valencia College’s West Campus, at 1800 S Kirkman Rd.
The West Campus COVID vaccination center will open on March 3 and will operate 7 days per week, 7 a.m. – 7 p.m., and is expected to remain open for at least eight weeks. Federal and state teams will operate the site and plan to administer 2,000 vaccines per day.
"At Valencia College, we are honored to support the federal and state efforts to vaccinate Central Floridians, particularly those in vulnerable communities," said Paul Rooney, assistant vice president of operations at Valencia College.
In addition to the primary location, each FEMA community vaccination center will operate two smaller, mobile satellite sites that will conduct 500 vaccinations per day in underserved areas. Through this model, the West Campus vaccination center and its two satellite sites will offer 3,000 vaccinations per day.
Timothy Ames (right), superintendent of the Medical Lake School District in Washington State, gets his first COVID-19 vaccination at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington, on Jan. 21. (Photo by: Airman Kiaundra Miller, 92nd Air Refueling Public Affair
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin recently met with military commanders overseeing the COVID-19 response effort as the military expanded its vaccination efforts in partnership with FEMA and state health authorities.
"As you have probably seen, we are going to be sending teams of active-duty professionals to assist FEMA in administering vaccines at select locations around the country," Austin said in a video message released to troops. "In other words, we're pitching in to help our fellow citizens as quickly and safely as possible."
The Biden administration has said that delivering the vaccine to Americans is a top priority. Austin signed off on the deployment of 25 military vaccination teams. So far, 11 have either started or will begin next week.
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