DOD Now Deploying 4,700 Troops for National Vaccination Drive

The Pentagon is readying around 4,700 Active-duty forces to support the Federal Emergency Management Agency at coronavirus vaccination sites nationwide, expanding the military’s role in pandemic-response efforts.

Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III is directing more than a four-fold increase in the number of troops headed to help vaccinate the general public, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters Feb. 12. The original plan involved five 222-person teams, but is now spiking to 25 total teams that will deploy in the near future.

Of the 20 additional teams, half will be groups of around 220 people sent to inoculation megasites. The other half include 139-person teams who will go to smaller shot distribution sites across the country.

FEMA is selecting where to allocate troops for those deployments, Kirby said. For example, one larger group of medical personnel like registered nurses from Fort Carson, Colo., is deploying to a megasite in California.

The Pentagon expects more details on the Active-duty groups will be available next week.

The Pentagon is still assembling its support teams, and the department wants to ensure “we are properly poised and ready to support those sites” as soon as FEMA is ready, Kirby said. Groups are preparing to leave on a rolling basis to be flexible, he added.

This batch of 4,700 personnel are assisting on top of around 26,000 National Guardsmen and 3,000 Active-duty troops already assigned to the COVID-19 response across the country, Kirby said.