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By Barbara Wilson, Illinois National Guard Public Affairs Office
Nearly eight months after being activated by Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker, the Illinois National Guard ended its COVID-19 vaccination mission Sept. 10.
“Since day one, the Illinois National Guard has played a vital role in the effort to control the spread of this deadly virus,” said Maj. Gen. Rich Neely, the Adjutant General of Illinois and Commander of the Illinois National Guard. “I’m proud of our Guard women and men as they stepped up to the plate to help our fellow citizens.”
The ILNG’s vaccination mission began Jan. 25 and during that time approximately 1,300 Soldiers and 470 Airmen served on the frontlines of the state’s COVID-19 vaccination response operations. The Soldiers and Airmen provided almost 1.9 million vaccinations throughout Illinois at state supported mass vaccination sites and as part of mobile vaccination teams. The Illinois National Guard provided 13.3 percent of Illinois’ 14.1 million total vaccinations. National Guard-wide, Illinois’ Citizen-Soldiers and -Airmen provided 14.1 percent of the 13.2 million total vaccinations given nationwide through National Guard missions.
The Illinois National Guard set up, manned and operated state supported vaccination sites across the state in partnership with the Illinois Department of Public Health and Illinois Emergency Management Agency and local health departments. Mobile vaccination teams operated throughout the state in conjunction with local health departments scheduling vaccination clinics.
Overall, the Illinois National Guard supported the vaccination mission in 71 of Illinois’ 102 counties at 639 vaccine locations in 241 communities.
During the first phase of the COVID-19 response operations, the Illinois National Guard operated community-based testing sites when they first opened in March 2020. From March until the testing site mission ended in July 2020, more than 250,000 COVID-19 tests were administered.