Colorado Springs Military Newspaper Group

Peterson Space Observer

Immunizations: more than just a pain in the side

By Airman 1st Class Rose Gudex

21st Space Wing Public Affairs Office

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo.    The line stretched out the door and to the edge of the parking lot, but it moved quickly and without too many meltdowns. Occasionally a scared child kicked and screamed with everything in their being to avoid what they assumed was the worst pain on the planet.

Every military member is required to get a flu shot and can bring their family as well. Staff Sgt. Kayla Swift, a 21st Medical Group immunization technician, was there for it all — the good and the bad.

Swift has been in the Air Force for six years and originally worked as an aerospace medical technician prior to becoming an allergy immunization technician.

She said her daily routine is never the same and keeps her on her toes. Everything in the immunizations clinic is by walk-ins only, so each day is different. Children often provide both excitement and a challenge Swift said.

“We have had kids run out … because they don’t want to get their shots,” she said. But Swift and her colleagues    along with the parents    are able to reassure the kids to make sure they get their vaccination as painlessly as possible.

Between scared children, scared new parents and everyone else, Swift is always busy.

“Some people think all we do is give shots, but that’s not true,” she said. “We need to know all the background information on each shot we give — reactions, allergies, preservatives. There’s a lot to it.”

Of all her duties, Swift said her favorite is working with the allergy patients.

“With immunizations, it’s a one-time thing and you never see them again,” she explained. “With allergy patients, you get to establish a relationship because you see them every month.”

While deployed, things were different.

Swift deployed to Afghanistan in November of last year as both an aerospace medical technician and an allergy immunization technician. She said while deployed she gave vaccines and worked with trauma cases, mostly blast injuries and gunshot wounds.

“It wasn’t until I deployed that I felt like an essential part of the mission,” Swift said. “I was the only (allergy immunization) tech there. I have more pride in the uniform and in myself since being in Bagram.”

There is something about being back in the states, though, Swift said.

“I’ve gained more patience,” she stated. “It isn’t nearly as crazy here. I’m glad to be back working here, where the hours are normal and the job is normal.”

No matter if it’s deployed or stateside, Swift will be there, doling out vaccines and ensuring Airmen are healthy and mission ready at all times.

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