Brig. Gen. Rebecca O’Connor speaks with medai from stands of arena.

Photos by Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Vega, Ohio National Guard Public Affairs

The Community Vaccination Center at Cleveland State University is officially open and vaccinating Ohioans in an effort to save and protect lives by stopping the spread of COVID-19. The CVC is manned by a team of about 540 Ohio National Guard and active-duty service members, as well as personnel from local, state and federal agencies and is being led by Ohio Air National Guard Brig. Gen. Rebecca O’Connor (pictured), who has been appointed as the dual-status commander in charge of the CVC, which is capable of vaccinating more than 6,000 people per day.

Dual-status commander unifies forces

Ohio National Guard general leading mass vaccination efforts in Cleveland

Story by Spc. Jessica Silhavy, Ohio National Guard Public Affairs

CLEVELAND, Ohio (03/25/21)

Ohio’s Community Vaccination Center at Cleveland State University is officially open and vaccinating Ohioans in an effort to save and protect lives by stopping the spread of COVID-19.

The Community Vaccination Center (CVC), which is managed by the state of Ohio and supported by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is providing vaccinations to members of the local community and is manned by a team of about 540 Ohio National Guard and active-duty service members, as well as personnel from local, state and federal agencies. Active-duty forces are providing vaccine support teams to help administer vaccines, issue health assessments, as well as check-in and guide the public throughout the CVC, which is being conducted at CSU’s Wolstein Center. The Ohio National Guard is providing additional personnel to support the mission.

When dealing with an operation this large, keeping these organizations unified and working as one very large team can become difficult.

When dealing with an operation this large, keeping these organizations unified and working as one very large team can become difficult. This is when a dual-status commander becomes involved to coordinate and oversee emergency response missions, so that they can ensure unity of command and effort among different military components.

Brig. Gen. Rebecca O’Connor, Ohio Air National Guard chief of staff, was appointed by Gov. Mike DeWine in February as the dual-status commander for Joint Task Force Magnus at the Cleveland CVC. During her command, her role is to provide direction and facilitate an open flow of communication among the Ohio National Guard members, active-duty forces, and all federal, state and local agency personnel.

O’Connor has served in several positions at the squadron, group, wing and state headquarters level for more than 30 years. She said her long, varied career of service has caused her to experience countless challenges that have helped her be a dedicated and resilient leader. Her experience has enabled her to adapt to obstacles she may face as the dual-status commander for this mission.

Even with a short time to prepare and plan, the CVC mission is running efficiently so far, O’Connor said.

“This has really been a huge community effort,” she said. “We’ve seen a lot of partnerships come together, not just among the state and federal agencies, but also to include the community.”

Through open communication with everyone involved, O’Connor has been able to adapt and improve the CVC, helping them vaccinate up to, and sometimes more than, 6,000 people a day. On April 2, the Cleveland CVC administered its 100,000th dose of the vaccine since opening.

O’Connor said everyone supporting the vaccination distribution mission is continuously coming up with ways to improve the operation, adding “they’re the ones who are really making this a success.” And, O’Connor said she will continue to keep her team focused, as well as facilitate that open flow of communication that encourages sharing of ideas and best practices, which will allow more Ohioans to efficiently and easily receive the COVID-19 vaccine each day the CVC is open.

Photos by Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Vega, Ohio National Guard Public Affairs; Sgt. Jeremy Lewis, 40th Public Affairs Detachment; and Sgt. Robert O’Steen, 5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment