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Overcoming skepticism through education: 42nd MDG worker gets vaccine

Margo Strong, a janitor at the 42nd Medical Group, poses for a photo Jan. 21, 2021, at the 42nd Medical Group on Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. Strong has been a resident of Montgomery since 1982, and she has worked at the 42nd MDG for over eight months.

Margo Strong, a janitor at the 42nd Medical Group, poses for a photo Jan. 21, 2021, at the 42nd Medical Group on Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. Strong has been a resident of Montgomery since 1982, and she has worked at the 42nd MDG for over eight months. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jackson Manske)

Tech. Sgt. Brandon Avila, 42nd Medical Group Flight Medicine noncommissioned officer in charge, administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Margo Strong, a janitor at the 42nd MDG Jan. 16, 2020, at the off-site clinic in the Honor Guard hangar on Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. Strong was offered the vaccine because her job puts her at a higher risk of exposure to COVID-19.

Tech. Sgt. Brandon Avila, 42nd Medical Group Flight Medicine noncommissioned officer in charge, administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Margo Strong, a janitor at the 42nd MDG Jan. 16, 2020, at the off-site clinic in the Honor Guard hangar on Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. Strong was offered the vaccine because her job puts her at a higher risk of exposure to COVID-19. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jackson Manske)

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. --

Margo Strong, a janitor with the 42nd Medical Group, received the COVID-19 vaccine at the Honor Guard Hangar Jan. 16, 2020, on Maxwell Air Force, Alabama.

Strong was offered the COVID-19 vaccine since she is categorized under “Phase 1a” of the DoD population schema. This means she receives priority in vaccine distribution because she supports patient care at the 42nd MDG, and she is at a higher risk of exposure to individuals who have contracted COVID-19.
 
Strong started working at the 42nd MDG in June 2020, but she’s been a resident of Montgomery for nearly forty years. She is responsible for performing detailed cleaning in any room where COVID-19 patients have been. This requires disinfecting of all surfaces like door knobs, seats and even the walls and floor. 

Strong acknowledged the importance of her role in keeping the medical facility sanitary in order to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission. 

Ensuring that front-line workers like Strong have access to the vaccine is critical to sustaining operations on Maxwell. Strong said that being vaccinated lowers the risk of essential workers contracting COVID-19, or having to call in sick or having to quarantine, and allows everyone to continue doing their job and carrying out the mission.

Although Strong said she was initially skeptical about receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, speaking to Capt. Aphton Lane, 42nd MDG Operation Warp Speed team lead, helped put her at ease.

Strong is excited to see the end of the COVID-19 pandemic so she can visit family in Chicago again.

“My father’s only sister is 76 years old and I really want to see her... so I'm really looking forward to COVID being over with, so that we can go and see her.”