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Army deploying 222 soldiers to LA to support COVID-19 vaccine effort

Army deploying 222 soldiers to LA to support COVID-19 vaccine effort
A resident is inoculated with the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination site in Los Angeles on  January 12. Soldiers under the command of U.S. Army North are the first Department of Defense members to deploy in support of COVID-19 vaccination centers. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 11 (UPI) -- The Army said Thursday it's deploying 222 soldiers from Fort Carson, Colo., to Los Angeles to support a state-run, federally supported COVID-19 vaccination center there.

U.S. Army North will oversee the military COVID-19 response operation in support of state and federal vaccination efforts.

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"Getting shots -- vaccinations -- in people's arms is the mission," said Lt. Gen. Laura J. Richardson, ARNORTH and Joint Force Land Component Command of U.S Northern Command. "And this team, here on behalf of the governor and state, has the ability to get thousands more people vaccinated every day."

The team will begin supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency's California State University Los Angeles vaccination center next week.

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It's one of five teams Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III approved Feb. 4 to support FEMA.

"While a chain of command will always exist in the military, make no mistake, we are not in charge here," Richardson said. "This is a state-run, federally supported site."

Army North's Joint Task Force 46, formed primarily by the Michigan Army National Guard's 46th Military Police Command, will serve as an intermediate headquarters between the Fort Carson team and the JFLCC, according to Army Public Affairs.

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The task force will also continue to manage 355 military medical personnel from the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force, who are providing ongoing medical support to 14 hospitals in 13 cities within California, Arizona, Texas, and the Navajo Nation.

On Thursday, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that a mass vaccination site at Dodger Stadium and four other city-run sites in the city will be closed Friday and Saturday due to a shortage of vaccines.

Last week White House senior adviser Andy Slavitt announced that about 1,000 U.S. troops from the the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps would assist in civilian vaccinations against the novel coronavirus.

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