HomeNewsArticle Display

Managing a new mission, a pandemic and the flu season at the 156th Wing

PRANG Airmen receive flu vaccination

U.S. Airmen with the 156th Wing, Puerto Rico Air National Guard, receive the flu vaccine from the 156th Medical Group at Muñiz Air National Guard Base, Nov. 7, 2020. Medical Group Airmen set up stations around base to help mitigate crowded spaces and long lines. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by 1st Lt. Brandon Patterson)

Col. Boone addresses 156th Wing leadership

U.S. Air Force Col. Pete Boone, the 156th Wing commander, Puerto Rico Air National Guard, speaks to commanders and chiefs during a meeting at Muñiz Air National Guard Base, about his priorities and the importance of taking care of Airmen while continuing the mission during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Caycee Watson)

PRANG Airmen receive flu vaccination

U.S. Airmen with the 156th Wing, Puerto Rico Air National Guard, receive the flu vaccine from the 156th Medical Group at Muñiz Air National Guard Base, Nov. 7, 2020. Medical Group Airmen set up stations around base to help mitigate crowded spaces and long lines. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by 1st Lt. Brandon Patterson)

PRANG Airmen receive flu vaccination

U.S. Air Force Capt. Jose Rodriguez, a nurse with the 156th Medical Group, administers the flu vaccine to Senior Airman Daniel Morales, an aerial porter with the 156th Contingency Response Group at Muzñiz Air National Guard Base, Puerto Rico Air National Guard, Nov. 7, 2020. Medical Group Airmen set up stations around base to help mitigate crowded spaces and long lines. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Capt. Claudia Villasenor)

PRANG Airmen receive flu vaccination

U.S. Air Force Maj. David Delgado, left, and Capt. Jose Rodriguez, nurses with the 156th Medical Group, prepare flu vaccines to be administered to 156th Wing Airmen at Muzñiz Air National Guard Base, Puerto Rico Air National Guard, Nov. 7, 2020. Medical Group Airmen set up stations around base to help mitigate crowded spaces and long lines. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Capt. Claudia Villasenor)

MUÑIZ AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Puerto Rico --

During the regularly scheduled drill weekend in November at the 156th Wing, leadership took the opportunity to focus on ensuring Airmen receive their flu vaccination and assess wing protocols for safeguarding members during the new normal, in light of COVID-19.

The military has an old adage of “people first, mission always,” and there’s nothing more important than accomplishing the mission, besides taking care of people. Col. Pete Boone, the 156th Wing commander, addressed all of his commanders and chiefs during a staff meeting where he recast his vision and priorities. In spite of COVID-19, the wing is still in the midst of a mission conversion and has a mission to accomplish.

“When we are called for duty, we have to continue to be ready; ready to respond, ready to meet the needs of our country and bring the full strength of the Puerto Rico Air National Guard,” said Boone. “That means encouraging our Airmen to continue doing what they can to protect themselves, their health and the health of their families.”

For all military members, measuring and assessing tactical risk is something taught from day one. The job of balancing the mission/people scale is an ongoing process that PRANG leadership places as a paramount priority. As soon as COVID-19 became a realization, Col. Boone and all PRANG leadership heavily leaned into the advice and knowledge of 156th Medical Group public health experts, to ensure they were taking care of the members and focusing on safety.

Brig. Gen. Travis Acheson, the assistant adjutant general-air, Puerto Air National Guard and Brig. Gen. Paul Loiselle, the deputy commander of the Puerto Rico Air National Guard, both stressed the importance of not growing complacent, as complacency is the enemy, and they also stressed following public health guidelines. They emphasized the importance of setting the standard and being the example for Airmen. Each and every leader has the responsibility to set the example of wearing a mask, maintaining social distance, washing hands regularly, not congregating in large groups, and these safety measures apply on and off duty.

In addition to taking COVID-19 precautions as we enter flu season, the medical group devised a strategic plan to administer the flu vaccination over the drill weekend. They set up five locations around the base to administer the vaccine in order to alleviate congregations of Airmen.

“Getting the flu vaccine this year is more important than ever,” said Lt. Col. Ana Rivera, the 156th Medical Group public health officer. “In order to protect yourself, your family and your community from the flu, receiving the flu vaccine this season can also help to reduce the burden on our healthcare system as they respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and to save medical resources.”

If any of our PRANG members have any questions about the flu vaccine or COVID-19, please contact the 156th MDG Public Health Office at 787-253-5203.