For her role leading the YPG vaccine distribution effort ,Christina Buco was presented with a Meritorious Civilian Service Award on July 27, 2021.
For her role leading the YPG vaccine distribution effort ,Christina Buco was presented with a Meritorious Civilian Service Award on July 27, 2021. (Photo Credit: Mark Schauer) VIEW ORIGINAL

When the Coronavirus vaccine became available in early 2021, it came in limited quantities and was being offered only to individuals in certain category groups.

When Yuma Proving Ground’s (YPG) Medical Clinic received its vaccine supply YPG leadership had to develop a plan to distribute the vaccine efficiently, confidentially, and keeping with social distancing requirements.

The YPG Mission Plans Division was tasked with distributing the vaccines and Operations Research Analyst (ORSA) Christina Buco was chosen to lead the effort.

“Leading a team of individuals to do such a dynamic effort was a humbling experience,” said Buco. “To be selected to lead that distribution effort was eye opening to what program analysts do.”

Typically, Buco manages a broad range of operations research efforts to support YPG operations, but because of her background with data collection and databases she was selected for the role. Buco used a secure database that served as a survey to confidentially ask the workforce if they wanted the vaccine, an appointment scheduling tool, roster, a time tracking tool between the two vaccine doses and also helped with selecting the location of the pop-up clinics.

“That database was probably the single most important thing that we did and it was a great asset and led to our success.”

The database calculations also ensured there was zero waste of the vaccine vial, which contained 10 doses.

The effort to distribute vaccines to YPG Soldiers, their families, retirees, the civilian workforce and coordinate vaccines for the contractor workforce was not an easy task. It involved coordination between entities such as the National Guard, Yuma County Public Health Services, YPG Medical Clinic staff, Directorate of Emergency Operations and Buco. Not to mention the manpower to set up 25 pop-up clinics around the installation.

“Everybody’s role was incredibly important,” notes Buco.

Over a six-month period, Buco scheduled thousands of vaccines available to the YPG community. For her role leading the effort Buco was presented with a Meritorious Civilian Service Award on July 27.

“I was appreciative that my work was noticed and that they had taken time to recognize my effort in the distribution of vaccines,” said Buco.

Buco is a mathematician with a Bachelors in Mathematics and Masters in Data Analytics, yet the one thing she cannot calculate is the hours the team dedicated to getting these vaccines to the YPG community.