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Tennesseans 12+: Now Eligible for a COVID-19 Vaccine

Murfreesboro Guardsman Helps the Health Department

Tuesday, June 01, 2021 | 02:04pm

MURFRESSBORO, Tenn. – When COVID-19 began spreading across Tennessee in March 2020, Sgt. Justin Chambers, a combat medic with Smyrna’s 208th Area Support Medical Company, was attending college at Middle Tennessee State University and working for the Rutherford County Emergency Management Service. A Spring Hill native, Chambers knew that his military training would be helpful during the pandemic.

“When Tennessee’s Adjutant General announced that the National Guard was mobilizing to fight COVID-19 last year, I knew my training would be needed,” said Chambers. “So I decided to put school and work on hold and do wherever I could to help.”

Using his skills as an Emergency Management Technician and a combat medic, Chambers joined the first group of Tennessee Guardsmen to volunteer. They started setting up testing sites throughout the state in direct support of the Department of Health and the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency.

“After we received training on how to administer the COVID-19 tests, I was tasked to go to Putman County and help with the testing center that was being created there,” said Chambers. “We quickly stood up the drive-thru testing site and we have since tested thousands of citizens for the virus.”

Throughout the year, Chambers used his medical training to administer COVID-19 tests and assist with all of the administrative aspects of tracking those tested. Starting this past January, he began administering vaccines and monitoring for potential side effects as well as being promoted to the noncommissioned officer in charge of the Guardsmen at the site. 

“Not only am I still testing, I am helping to vaccinate citizens and I’m managing my team’s work schedule,” said Chambers. “I also coordinate with the Tennessee Department of Health to provide personnel to operate various pop-up testing and vaccination sites throughout Putnam County.”

As testing and vaccinations begin to slow, Chambers is looking to the future.

“Soon this mission will be complete and I look forward to returning to MTSU and the Rutherford County EMS,” said Chambers. “I love what I’ve been doing and feel privileged to be able to help during this crisis.”

Sgt. Justin Chambers

Sgt. Justin Chambers, a combat medic with Smyrna’s 208th Areas Support Medical Company, confirms the number of COVID-19 vaccine appointments in Putnam County. Chambers has been supporting the fight against COVID-19 in Tennessee communities since March, when Gov. Bill Lee officially activated the Tennessee National Guard. (Photo by Sgt. Finis L. Dailey, III)