National Guardsmen named unsung heroes of Roanoke vaccine clinics

As communities work to get thousands of people vaccinated quickly and smoothly, the National Guard is being praised for its efforts to help make that happen.

ROANOKE, Va. – More COVID-19 vaccines could be available in the Roanoke Valley as early as next week. Behind the scenes are a lot of people who make mass vaccination clinics possible. Thursday, the Virginia Department of Health took some time to thank a few unsung heroes responsible for making the vaccination process a smooth one.

Dr. Cynthia Morrow, Director of the Roanoke City & Allegheny Health District, said her team is indebted to the Virginia National Guard.

“We couldn’t do what we’re doing in our community without the National Guard and our partners,” expressed Morrow. “It has provided us with the level of expertise that we didn’t have, but it’s provided us with an incredible relief.”

The National Guardsmen help with every step of the process including escorted vulnerable patients in and out of the vaccination site.

“This is definitely the first of its kind, especially with my experience in the military,” stated Lt. Morgan Collens. His team of 50 has been in Roanoke since late February/early March.

Since late December, the Roanoke City & Allegheny Health District has worked with vaccination partners to provide over 118,000 doses of vaccine (including second doses) to local residents.

“They were the masterminds behind making sure all of the cars were moving and making sure that we can get everybody vaccinated,” said Morrow.

As more doses are set to arrive in Roanoke as early as next week, the Guard says they will be on guard wherever they are needed.

“We were welcomed here and we’re just helping the community any way we can,” expressed Collens.

All people interested in receiving vaccines in the state of Virginia are encouraged to sign up on the pre-registration site at or by calling 1-877-VAX-IN-VA. All citizens are strongly urged to pre-register even if they are not currently eligible to receive vaccine now. With the expansion of doses coming into the area, we may more quickly have supplies available to expand to additional populations. After pre-registering through the state site, individuals will be contacted when it is their turn to receive the vaccine.

About the Author:

McKinley Strother joined the WSLS 10 News team in June 2020. He anchors 10 News at 6 and 11 on Saturdays and Sundays and you'll also catch him reporting during the week.