Sgt. Okoarye Dishman, a medic assigned to vaccination strike team two, Kentucky National Guard, admi
Sgt. Okoarye Dishman, a medic assigned to vaccination strike team two, Kentucky National Guard, administers a COVID-19 vaccination to a detainee at the Big Sandy Regional Detention Center, Paintsville, Ky. May 20. This comes in part to COVID-19 vaccine distribution throughout the commonwealth. (Photo Credit: Staff Sgt. Lerone Simmons) VIEW ORIGINAL

PAINTSVILLE, Ky. – The Kentucky National Guard continues to play a major role in the distribution of COVID-19 vaccinations in the commonwealth.

Kentucky Guard Mobile Vaccination Strike Teams have traversed Kentucky with Department for Public Health personnel to help vaccinate people at Department of Corrections facilities. As part of the state’s COVID-19 response, prisoners in the care of the DOC have the option of being vaccinated.

“It’s important to understand that there is a need here,” said Angela Kik, a DPH strike team liaison. “Over the last few years, our clinical staff has decreased, so having the support of National Guard strike teams has allowed us to continue our mission and take care of some of our most vulnerable members of our population.”

Teams of medical and administrative personnel from the Kentucky Guard coordinate with the DOC to estimate how much vaccine and supplies are needed, help with administrative support and conduct vaccinations.

Kik, a nurse and Army Reserve veteran of eight years, never thought she would work this closely with the military upon her separation.

“They are always ready to act and get things done quickly and effectively,” she said. “It’s good to be working this closely with them. I love working with the Guard.”

When it came to administering vaccinations, Kik worked with Sgt. Okoarye Dishman, a medic.

“Folks have been thanking us nonstop for coming to administer the vaccine. It’s important for us to let them know that they are not forgotten and we’re willing to do what it takes to get the job done,” Dishman said. “It feels good to know that we are helping our state by working together to get back to normal soon.”

The DOC will begin allowing in-person visitors starting June 20. Visitors will be required to be vaccinated, wear masks, follow social distancing protocol, and schedule their visits in advance.