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NEWS | April 19, 2021

Kansas National Guard offers auditorium for COVID-19 vaccinations

By Maj. Margaret Ziffer 105th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

SALINA, Kan. – The auditorium at the Kansas Army National Guard’s regional training institute in Salina buzzed with activity April 15 as the Salina Family Healthcare Center’s COVID-19 vaccination clinic prepared to open its doors.

“The organization reached out to us to see if the Kansas Army National Guard would have facilities to support a Salina community COVID-19 vaccination clinic, and we did,” said Maj. Michael Billings, Kansas Training Center battalion executive officer. “We still have Kansas Army National Guard training here, but we were able to de-conflict and work everything out for them to use our auditorium and hopefully get some more people access to the COVID vaccine.”

“We have 500 doses of Moderna,” said Hayley Samford, marketing and community outreach associate with the Salina Family Healthcare Center. “So it would be wonderful if we could go through all that today.”

Samford said most of their vaccine clinics have been on the east side of town, which has been problematic for those who may lack transportation, time off work to get across town or available child care options. So when they decided to do an outreach clinic in the hopes of making the vaccine more accessible to residents and employees on the west side, location was everything. The Kansas Army National Guard training facility, it turned out, was perfectly situated to host a clinic that could address many of those issues.

“For this clinic, we were thinking especially about Schwann’s, since they are the largest employer in Salina,” Samford said. “We wanted to make it as convenient as possible to vaccinate their workforce - those who would like a vaccine – so, by stationing ourselves right here, then we are as close as possible to their workforce and we’ll go through two of their shift changes while we’re here.”

To simplify the process even more, Samford said no appointments were required and ads and vaccine literature were available in multiple languages.

“We want to make sure that everyone can understand the messaging and what resources are available in order to make a decision and complete the paperwork in a language they feel comfortable with,” said Samford.

“I think they’ve done a great job in communicating with the community, getting the information out,” Billings said, adding that the KSARNG was happy to contribute to the efforts to help keep the Salina community safe and open.

“This is an industrial part of town,” Billings said. “So these are the individuals who are working hard and keeping the economy going.”

“We’re so grateful for community partnerships like this,” Samford said. “There’s so much we need to be doing with COVID-19 vaccination outreach, so any assistance we can get in that we’re very grateful for. It’s so cool to see the community coming together to conquer this pandemic.”