COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio National Guard members on the front line of the state's pandemic response began receiving the COVID-19 vaccination just before Christmas.The Department of Defense is allocating doses of the vaccine to the Ohio National Guard as part of a pilot program for Soldiers and Airmen who are performing full-time National Guard duty under Title 10 and Title 32 of the U.S. Code, in support of the state's COVID-19 response. About 500 Guard members assisting in missions at long-term care facilities, COVID-19 testing sites and food banks are expected to be vaccinated."We've been supporting our state since March in the fight against COVID-19. I'm incredibly proud of the work being done by our men and women," said Maj. Gen. John C. Harris Jr., Ohio adjutant general. "Their health and safety is a top priority. The vaccine will help protect them, their families and their communities."Ohio Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Adam Stang, a Soldier with the 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team and the noncommissioned officer in charge of the food bank mission in Cincinnati, was one of the first in line to get the vaccination."I am representing the Ohio National Guard, and it's one of my responsibilities to be the best representative I can be and to be safe and healthy. So this was one way that I could ensure that I would be safe and healthy and be able to continue my mission," Stang said.Ohio Army National Guard 1st Lt. Zachary Cook, also with the 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team and the officer in charge of the food bank mission in the Cincinnati area, felt it was well worth getting the vaccination. He urged others to do the same."I'm getting vaccinated because my wife's a teacher and I want to make things easier for her," Cook said. "It is absolutely recommended to get the vaccine. It is safe, it's effective by every measure that the CDC (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has put out."Even though the vaccine is available, Ohio National Guard members will continue to adhere to all public health standards issued by the CDC and the Ohio Department of Health.The Department of Defense pilot program is separate from the doses of vaccine the state of Ohio receives for front-line civilian health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities.