FORT INDIANTOWN GAP, Pa. – Members of the Pennsylvania National Guard are getting vaccinated to protect against the spread of the coronavirus.The vaccine was made available to PNG members voluntarily beginning Jan. 4, with priority given to Soldiers and Airmen who are actively supporting COVID-19 missions. Medical specialists are administering it at several facilities across the commonwealth, including Fort Indiantown Gap.“Although it's voluntary, every eligible, available and willing service member is encouraged to receive the vaccine,” said Maj. Jennifer Philson, a medical operations officer with the Pennsylvania National Guard state surgeon’s office.After an initial round of vaccinations of front-line personnel, several senior leaders, including Maj. Gen. Mark Schindler, Pennsylvania’s acting adjutant general, received the vaccine on Jan. 13. Schindler said the vaccine is part of the path forward to getting the virus under control.“I highly encourage every Soldier and Airman in the Pennsylvania National Guard to consider getting the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available to them,” he said. “This is about protecting our team, our teammates, our mission and our families and communities.”Command Sgt. Maj. Jon Worley, the senior enlisted adviser to the adjutant general, also got the vaccine on Jan. 13. He said he decided to get the vaccine to protect his family, specifically his 3-year-old granddaughter.“I got the vaccine because we have to protect those around us, and that includes our family,” Worley said. “If my getting the vaccine stops me from spreading it to someone I love, for instance, my granddaughter, that’s why I’m getting it. It’s also our way of also protecting our forces and stopping the spread amongst our forces.”Vaccines work by stimulating a person's immune system to produce antibodies, like it would if they were exposed to a disease, according to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention. After getting vaccinated, you develop immunity to that disease, the CDC website says.“Vaccines have been very effective in recent history and have nearly eradicated several deadly diseases, like smallpox, measles, mumps and polio,” Philson said.The combination of getting vaccinated and following CDC’s recommendations to protect yourself and others offer the best protection from COVID-19, Philson added.Philson said she plans to be vaccinated as soon as the vaccine is available to her.“Just like for any other Guard mission, whether we’re supporting winter storms or floods or civil unrest, us getting the vaccine is doing our part to support and protect the community,” she said. “For me, it’s the right thing to do. It’s how I can help.”For more National Guard newsNational Guard FacebookNational Guard TwitterHow the National Guard is helpingPhotos of the National Guard responseLatest from the CDC