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177th Fighter Wing and 108th Wing Support COVID-19 Vaccination Mission at the Atlantic City Convention Center

An image of a N.J. Air National Guard member serving at the Atlantic City Convention Center, Atlantic City, N.J., Jan. 27, 2021, which was set up as a COVID-19 vaccination Point of Distribution Center.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Salomon Sterling, 108th Wing Security Forces Squadron defender, holds his post and directs entering patients, Jan. 27, 2021, at the Atlantic City Convention Center, Atlantic City, N.J. Sterling screened incoming patients for COVID-19 symptoms, at an alternate entrance to the Atlantic City COVID-19 vaccination point of distribution center. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Airman 1st Class Hunter Hires)

An image of Nj Air National Guard members serving at the Atlantic City Convention Center, Atlantic City, N.J. to help the residents of New Jersey to receive the COVID-19 vaccination at the Atlantic County Point Of Distribution mega-site.

U.S. Air Force Captain Sean J. McCauley, 177th Operations Support Squadron intel analyst, screens patients, Jan. 27, 2021, at the Atlantic City Convention Center, Atlantic City, N.J. McCauley is the assistant director of operations for the New Jersey National Guard mission at the Atlantic City COVID-19 vaccination point of distribution center. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Airman 1st Class Hunter Hires)

An image of NJ Air National Guard members and medical personnel from AtlantiCare Regional Health Services  serving at the Atlantic City Convention Center, Atlantic City, N.J. to help the residents of New Jersey to receive the COVID-19 vaccination at the Atlantic County Point Of Distribution mega-site.

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Abraham Dyewole, 227th Air Support Operations Squadron transmission systems specialist, checks patients out of the Atlantic City Convention Center, Jan. 27, 2021, in Atlantic City, N.J. Dyewole recently graduated from technical training and took up his first mission, assisting the vaccination of patients at the Atlantic City COVID-19 vaccination point of distribution center, which is one of six mega-sites statewide. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Airman 1st Class Hunter Hires)

An image of NJ Air National Guard members serving at the Atlantic City Convention Center, Atlantic City, N.J. to help the residents of New Jersey to receive the COVID-19 vaccination at the Atlantic County Point Of Distribution mega-site.

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Rafael Morales Jr., 108th Wing Security Forces Squadron flight chief, left, and Capt. Sean J. McCauley, 177th Operations Support Squadron intelligence officer, pose for a photograph after a briefing, Jan. 22, 2021, at the Atlantic City Convention Center, Atlantic City, N.J. Morales and McCauley, with the 108th Wing and 177th Fighter Wing respectively, worked with AtlantiCare Regional Health Services nurses to vaccinate civilian residents at the Atlantic City COVID-19 vaccination point of distribution. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Airman 1st Class Hunter Hires)

An image of NJ Air National Guard and AtlantiCare Regional Health Services members serving at the Atlantic City Convention Center, Atlantic City, N.J., to help the residents of New Jersey receive the COVID-19 vaccination at the Atlantic County Point Of Distribution mega-site.

Anne Doughery-Mari, retired, receives a COVID-19 vaccination Jan. 22, 2021, at the Atlantic City Convention Center, Atlantic City, N.J. Dougherty-Mari, amidst her cancer treatment, volunteered to receive the vaccine at the Atlantic City Convention Center vaccination point of distribution center, which is being run by AtlantiCare Regional Health Services, the 177th Fighter Wing and the 108th Wing. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Airman 1st Class Hunter Hires)

An image of NJ Air National Guard and AtlantiCare Regional Health Services members serving at the Atlantic City Convention Center, Atlantic City, N.J., to help the residents of New Jersey receive the COVID-19 vaccination at the Atlantic County Point Of Distribution mega-site.

Members of the team at the Atlantic City Convention Center attend a briefing, Jan. 22, 2021, in Atlantic City, N.J. Nurses from AtlantiCare Regional Health Services worked with the 177th Fighter Wing as well as the 108th Wing to vaccinate civilian residents at the Atlantic City COVID-19 vaccination point of distribution. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Airman 1st Class Hunter Hires)

An image of a NJ Air National Guard member serving at the Atlantic City Convention Center, Atlantic City, N.J., to help the residents of New Jersey receive the COVID-19 vaccination at the Atlantic County Point Of Distribution mega-site.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. April L. Kelso, 177th Fighter Wing Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter, sanitizes several areas of the Atlantic City Convention Center vaccination point of distribution Jan. 22, 2021, in Atlantic City, N.J. Kelso and 19 other members of the 177th Fighter Wing worked with AtlantiCare Regional Health Services as well as the 108th Wing to vaccinate civilian residents at the Atlantic City COVID-19 vaccination POD. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Airman 1st Class Hunter Hires)

An image of a AtlantiCare Regional Health Services member serving at the Atlantic City Convention Center, Atlantic City, N.J., to help the residents of New Jersey receive the COVID-19 vaccination at the Atlantic County Point Of Distribution mega-site.

Patricia Moseley, AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center registered nurse, poses for a photograph after sanitizing her station, Jan. 22, 2021, at the Atlantic City Convention Center, Atlantic City, N.J. Moseley and other nurses from AtlantiCare Regional Health Services worked with the 177th Fighter Wing as well as the 108th Wing to vaccinate civilian residents at the Atlantic City COVID-19 vaccination point of distribution. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Airman 1st Class Hunter Hires)

An image of a New Jersey Air National Guard member serving at the Atlantic City Convention Center, Atlantic City, N.J., to help the residents of New Jersey receive the COVID-19 vaccination at the Atlantic County Point Of Distribution mega-site.

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Julian M. Alicea, 177th Fighter Wing Communications Flight cyber transport systems specialist, poses for a photograph after receiving a challenge coin, Jan. 22, 2021, at the Atlantic City Convention Center, Atlantic City, N.J. Alicea was coined for taking up the role of liaison with AtlantiCare Regional Health Services, while still fulfilling his primary role of registering patients for the Atlantic City COVID-19 vaccination point of distribution. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Airman 1st Class Hunter Hires)

An image of a N.J. Air National Guard member serving at the Atlantic City Convention Center, Atlantic City, N.J., Jan. 27, 2021, which was set up as a COVID-19 vaccination Point of Distribution Center.
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U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Nand P. Patel, 177th Fighter Wing Logistics Readiness Squadron metrical management supply specialist, prepares to screen patients, Jan. 27, 2021, at the Atlantic City Convention Center, Atlantic City, N.J. Patel previously volunteered for service with the NJ COVID-19 support missions at the Vineland Veterans home and for election support. Atlantic City COVID-19 vaccination point of distribution center is one of six mega-sites statewide. The others are in Atlantic, Bergen, Edison, Gloucester, and Morris counties. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Airman 1st Class Hunter Hires)

ATLANTIC CITY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.J. --

Members of the 108th Wing and 177th Fighter Wing have established a Point of Distribution (POD) center for the COVID-19 vaccination at the Atlantic City Convention Center, with personnel from AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center.

The Air National Guardsmen and AtlantiCare personnel at the Atlantic City Convention Center POD vaccinated 259 residents on day one, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2021, and plan on ramping up to several thousands of vaccinations a day.

“The goal for the POD is to ramp up to vaccinating 2,400 individuals a day, on a seven-day schedule,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Sean J. McCauley, 177th Operations Group intel analyst. “The idea is that we get as many people in New Jersey vaccinated as fast as possible, ensuring that they're available for their second vaccination, and ensuring that we get the full vaccination circle-cycle complete.”

McCauley is also the officer in charge of registration at the Atlantic City Convention Center POD, making sure that residents are admitted accurately and correctly, before AtlantiCare personnel administer the vaccinations.

Air National Guardsmen serving at the POD understand the importance of distributing these vaccinations, and speak against the rumored suspicions that the vaccine is harmful to the public.

“Vaccines have been around for a long time,” said Staff Sgt. April L. Kelso, 177th Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter and non-commissioned officer in charge of the observation area at the Atlantic City POD. “Vaccines are important, and they make them for a reason. I know that people are hesitant about this one, since it was produced so fast, but I think they should have trust that people aren’t trying to create a vaccine to harm the population.”

The Atlantic City POD has safely administered over 2,500 vaccinations since Jan. 22, 2021, and aims to achieve much larger numbers in the future.

“To me, getting the area vaccinated is to ensure that people are confident that they have peace,” said McCauley. “We're trying to get back to a way of life that, at this point, is now a year ago. I think that many of the patients and the citizens of New Jersey coming here to get vaccinated are just one step closer to getting to see their families again, getting to spend time in the groups that they used to; game nights, going out, having a nice dinner, barbecues. So, I think the feeling of normalcy is what everyone's trying to gain, in a very unpredictable and uncharacteristic time in our lives.”

Besides the patients and personnel serving at the POD, the Atlantic City Convention Center has had some very important visitors, such as the N.J. state command chief, Chief Master Sgt. Michael J. Rakauckas, and New Jersey’s 56th First Lady, Tammy Murphy. These important guests, as well as the patients being vaccinated at the POD, have offered nothing but positive feedback to the Guardsmen and AtlantiCare personnel.

“The patients are all excited, and very appreciative about what we've been doing, and how the process works,” said Kelso. “I get to hear all the good stuff at the end, such as, ‘I enjoyed being there.’ Being in charge of the observation area, I’m in the spot where we probably talk to the patients the most, while engaging with the public the entire time. They’ve been saying that they’re very lucky and very fortunate that they even made it in here to get the vaccine, and that they thought they’d infect their family members, which they had some anxiety about. They are pretty positive overall about their experience.”

Not only are the residents satisfied with their treatment, but also with the operation at the Atlantic City Convention Center POD itself.

“From the patient's standpoint, from the citizens of New Jersey, we have been told that they are amazed by the experience that they have had here,” said McCauley. “Granted, it's getting vaccinated; it's not Disney World. But, they are pleasantly surprised by how smooth the operation is going. They appreciate everyone here. So, from that standpoint, I feel that we're doing very well.”

The Atlantic City Convention Center POD will be operating, at least, until late March, and the New Jersey Air National Guardsmen and AtlantiCare personnel have been making large, impactful waves in regards to safety and security for the lives of the residents of New Jersey.