June 2021 Snapshots
Your colleagues volunteered to vaccinate America and were vaccinated against COVID-19 themselves. Here’s what they had to say about it.
Las Vegas, Nev.
A bird’s-eye view of COVID-19 “vaccination hero” volunteers from FSIS, USDA’s Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Nevada National Guard and the Southern Nevada Health District socially distance inside the Las Vegas Convention Center. Dr. Willy Lanier, a commander with the U.S. Public Health Service and senior epidemiologist in FSIS’ Office of Public Health Science, was among those deployed to this location. He said, “It was a great group and very cool to see all the agencies working together. It was an honor to be involved.”
Dr. Candace Murry, an Office of Field Operations supervisory public health veterinarian in the Jackson District, is all smiles after receiving the second dose of her COVID-19 vaccine on April 10. She said, “I was vaccinated so I can be around my family and be able to travel again. I don’t want to worry or be scared every time I go somewhere.”
Las Vegas, Nev.
As a former combat medic in the U.S. Army, John Lucas had the clinical training needed to join forces with other USDA personnel to provide vaccinations. Lucas is a microbiologist with Office of Public Health Science’s Eastern Laboratory. During a 30-day deployment to Nevada he vaccinated 1,117 people. “Having had previous training, I felt it was important to assist in the vaccination efforts so that our country can return to normal as quickly as possible,” he said. “I did not want to be responsible for spreading infection to vulnerable members of the population.” Photo by Tanesha Wilkins, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service.
Deborah Caruso, a consumer safety inspector in the Office of Field Operations’ Philadelphia District, received her second COVID-19 vaccination on March 26. She said, “I received the vaccine to protect myself, family and friends.”
Office of Investigation, Enforcement and Audit Senior Compliance Specialist Dr. Denise Amann (left) and Lead Compliance Specialist Dr. Ashley Etue (right) were 2 of about 20 USDA veterinarian volunteers deployed to the Regency Furniture Stadium vaccination site in March.
Etue said she volunteered “to save lives, to help the community return to normal activities and to protect myself and those around me.”
Amann vaccinated approximately 100 people during the nearly month-long deployment. She has professional and personal reasons for volunteering, saying, “COVID-19 is a threat to public health and as an FSIS employee, it is my duty to protect. I am deeply grateful and forever proud of all the USDA Veterinary COVID-19 Vaccinator Team accomplished.” She continued, “In early January 2021, my father was diagnosed with and nearly succumbed to COVID-19. He is now unable to walk without assistance; struggles to do the most basic things; and spends much of his time in a hospital bed. COVID-19 has changed my life, my mother’s life, and my brother’s life forever. Don’t be like my father; get the vaccine!”
On April 1, Office of Field Operations’ Philadelphia District Consumer Safety Inspector Michael Piotrowski receives his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. “I received the vaccine to do my part to protect others and myself,” he said.
Dr. Jacqueline Dessoliers, an Office of Field Operations supervisory public health veterinarian in the Alameda District, is inside her vehicle after being vaccinated. She said, “The whole process was very efficient. I was in and out in about 90 minutes, to include the 15-minute observation period.”
“First shot in the books!” said Kelli Willis after being vaccinated on April 7. Willis is a program analyst in the Office of Planning, Analysis and Risk Management. “I was vaccinated to protect myself, family and those around me. I am ready to get things back to normal!” she said.
Falls Church, Va.
Laura Reiser, an Office of Public Affairs and Consumer Education senior writer/editor, was vaccinated with her second dose of COVID-19 vaccine on April 8. Here she shows her bandage and vaccine sticker. Reiser said, “I was vaccinated to keep myself and others healthy and, so I can continue to be there for my family. I’m glad to have gotten the vaccine, but I will still continue masking and social distancing.” She continued, “An extended family member in poor health contracted COVID-19 before the vaccines were available, and she was seriously ill. I’m in the higher risk category as well.”
Kandy Evans, an Office of Field Operations’ Raleigh District consumer safety inspector was vaccinated on April 2. “My establishment had so many people interested in the vaccine that a local pharmacy came to the establishment and administered the shots.” She continued, “I was vaccinated for two reasons: a very good friend of mine passed away from the COVID-19 virus; and the more people who are vaccinated, the closer we are to getting back to normal.”
Pictured, from left: Office of Employee Experience and Development Program Analyst Dr. Michael Dendinger; Office of Policy Program Development Veterinary Medical Officer Dr. Nicole Tyler; and Office of Field Operations (OFO) Veterinary Medical Officers Drs. Gabrial Eddings and Parrish Kline are volunteered to vaccinate Marylanders.
Dendinger said, “Volunteering was an opportunity to utilize my skills and help the country during the pandemic.” He vaccinated approximately 1,000 people.
Tyler vaccinated approximately 2,000 people over 23 days - 100-125 people per day. She explained why she volunteered, saying, “I felt called to do it. I wanted to do my part in the fight against COVID-19. As a veterinarian, I’m a believer in science, and I wanted to lead by example. I also have family and friends that I want to protect.”
Eddings said she volunteered because “as a veterinarian, I gave an oath that included promotion of public health. I wanted to do my part for my community and for public health. It was also more important to me to see how elated and grateful so many individuals were to be receiving their vaccinations.”
“When the Agency asked for volunteers, I was excited to be able to chip in and do my part to protect public health,” said Kline. “The pure joy and appreciation expressed by people getting vaccinated made me even happier that I volunteered to help out.”
Photo by Adam Holloway, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
On April 21, Food Inspector Brenda Akles, in the Office of Field Operations’ Atlanta District, said, “I was vaccinated so I could protect myself and my family.”
Ivy Price, an Office of Field Operations consumer safety inspector in the Raleigh District, was vaccinated on March 23 because she was aware of “numerous case outbreaks… and because I want to be here to watch my granddaughter grow up.” Photo by Dr. Meredith Ellerbee, OFO.