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KMC volunteers help distribute COVID-19 vaccine

A photo of a clipboard detailing COVID-19 screening questions.

Jami Malcolm, COVID-19 vaccine distribution volunteer, reads out COVID-19 screening questions at the Ramstein Southside Fitness Center Annex at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Feb. 3, 2021. Before entering the facility, patients must confirm the lack of COVID-19 symptoms, had no contact with positive COVID-19 patients within the past two weeks, and no travel to any area with a high rate of COVID-19 cases. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Taylor D. Slater)

A photo of a volunteer taking another volunteer's temperature.

Leslie Champion, COVID-19 vaccine distribution volunteer, takes a colleague’s temperature at the Ramstein Southside Fitness Center Annex at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Feb. 3, 2021. Before entering the facility, volunteers must confirm patients are fever-free to avoid contaminating the area. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Taylor D. Slater)

A photo of a volunteer speaking with a patient.

Sammi Cosgrove, COVID-19 vaccine distribution volunteer, speaks with a patient at the Ramstein Southside Fitness Center Annex at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Feb. 3, 2021. One of the duties of a volunteer at the distribution area is observing patients for a period of time following inoculation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Taylor D. Slater)

A card listing common COVID-19 vaccine side effects.

A list of common COVID-19 vaccine side effects are displayed on every chair at the Ramstein Southside Fitness Center Annex at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Feb. 3, 2021. Patients may experience some side effects , which are normal signs that the body is building protection. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Taylor D. Slater)

A photo of a volunteer disinfecting a chair.

Sammi Cosgrove, COVID-19 vaccine distribution volunteer, disinfects a chair at the Ramstein Southside Fitness Center Annex at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Feb. 3, 2021. One of the duties of a volunteer at the distribution area is sanitizing the area to decrease risk of cross-contamination among patients. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Taylor D. Slater)

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- The 86th Medical Group fielded a number of volunteers from the Kaiserslautern Military Community to assist in distributing COVID-19 vaccines to the surrounding areas.

“By utilizing volunteers, we can restore more medics to their regular duties, enabling the [86th] Medical Group to continue full medical operations,” said Maj. Rajeev Williams, 86th MDG senior group practice manager and control center director.

While licensed medical professionals will administer the vaccine, volunteers are able to help the cause by screening patients, taking their temperatures and disinfecting rest areas.

Volunteers aren’t required to be nurses or health care professionals. They come from all professions and backgrounds.

“I’m not medically trained,” said Sammi Cosgrove, elementary school teacher. “This is still something that is really helping. I encourage people who are looking for something that will be able to lend a hand and support people getting vaccinated and staying safe (to volunteer).”

Cosgrove assists the 86th MDG by observing patients for 20-30 minutes after inoculation for signs of adverse reactions. Afterward, she sanitizes the area the patients sat in and prepares for the next wave of patients.

“It’s beautifully set up,” Cosgrove said. “[Physical] distancing is very clear, the volunteers are very good at showing you what needs to be done, and everything is cleaned repeatedly.”

Cosgrove wasn’t the only one to volunteer; the response has been overwhelming for the 86th MDG. According to Williams, six hours after posting the request they filled 125 5-hour shifts. Any DOD ID card holder over 18 is eligible to volunteer.

“As we get more vaccine supply and can project future dates of vaccine operations, we will open up more slots for volunteers,” Williams said.

The previous volunteer sign-up lists were distributed by the Airman and Family Readiness Center and Ramstein Key Spouses. The 86th MDG plans to expand their volunteer outreach effort across the group.

For the safety of the community, after a number of hours served, volunteers are considered frontline healthcare workers and are thus eligible to receive the vaccine as well. Volunteers are also encouraged to participate more than once.

A global problem requires many hands, and the COVID-19 vaccine distribution is one of many ways the KMC community comes together to help everyone succeed.

For more information on the COVID-19 vaccine distribution rollout process, please visit https://www.ramstein.af.mil/COVID-19-Vaccine-Information/.