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Kentucky National Guard posts high vaccination rates ahead of deadline

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Kentucky Army National Guard
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Sgt. Matt Damon
Kentucky Army National Guard Sgt. Roberto Gorostieta, a combat medic with the 130th Engineer Support Company and vaccination team non-commissioned officer, administers COVID-19 vaccination at the Boone National Guard Center, in Frankfort, Ky., November 6, 2021. Soldiers and airmen received the vaccine as part of Operation Fortified Guardian for the Kentucky National Guard.

The Kentucky National Guard is following a Department of Defense mandate that says all service members must be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The Guard launched its vaccination initiative, Operation Fortified Guardian, on Oct. 15. As of last week, 91% of the force had received their first injection and 73 percent had received their second dose. Col. Timothy Starke, Commander of the 75th Troop Command, said having vaccinated service members is critical to the Guard’s mission.

“This is about force protection and ensuring that we have a healthy force that can train without restrictions, and so that we are prepared to fight our nation’s wars abroad and respond to emergencies here at home," explained Starke.

Colonel Starke said mandatory vaccinations have been part of the military for nearly a century and the COVID-19 vaccine is no different. Service members can request an exemption for medical or religious reasons. Otherwise, failure to get vaccinated can result in dismissal from the Guard.

Air Guardsmen have until Dec. 3 to become fully vaccinated while the deadline for Army Guardsman is June 30, 2022. 

Meanwhile, the Kentucky National Guard continues to provide pandemic relief with more than 300 service members on duty at 19 hospitals in the state.
Copyright 2021 WKU Public Radio. To see more, visit WKU Public Radio.

Lisa is a Scottsville native and WKU alum. She has worked in radio as a news reporter and anchor for 18 years. Prior to joining WKU Public Radio, she most recently worked at WHAS in Louisville and WLAC in Nashville. She has received numerous awards from the Associated Press, including Best Reporter in Kentucky. Many of her stories have been heard on NPR.
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