377th MDG immunization clinic ensures medical readiness

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Karissa Dick
  • 377th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

People gather in a small room and anxiously wait for their name to be called. As one person shuffles out rubbing their upper arm, another is ushered back to a sterile exam room where a technician prepares an assortment of vaccines.

The 377th Medical Group immunizations clinic works tirelessly to ensure every patient is properly cared for, and is vital to maintaining the medical and mission readiness of Kirtland Air Force Base.

“Our main responsibility is to ensure the safety of our patients,” said Staff Sgt. Makenna Horton, 377th Medical Group immunization technician. “We not only assist with vaccinating against preventable diseases, but we keep our active-duty [ready] to travel worldwide in the blink of an eye.”

Horton is part of a two-person team that diligently runs the immunization clinic serving beneficiaries including active-duty, dependents, retirees and Department of Defense civilians from KAFB and the surrounding areas. Collectively, the two-person staff sees approximately 50 patients a day, but the patient flow can vary depending on the time of year.

The clinic provides a variety of services, such as vaccinations, allergy testing, allergy therapy, pulmonary function tests, and PCS and deployment medical record clearances.

During the coronavirus pandemic, the 377th immunizations clinic faced and overcame many obstacles while leading the vaccination campaign.

“It was a challenge that nobody had imagined before,” said Horton. “We had to struggle with new [coronavirus variants] emerging while addressing the yearly influenza campaign. With the newness of the COVID vaccine, it was especially challenging with all of the unknown, all the ‘what ifs’, and policies.”

Although strapped with a heavy patient load, the clinic technicians take extra time to examine patients’ medical records to determine if any additional vaccines or services are necessary to help ensure medical readiness.

One of the best parts about working in the clinic for Tech. Sgt. Mircho Plaza, 377th Medical Group immunization technician, is his team.  

“We try to provide the fastest and most efficiently safe service we can, while also checking for any additional services patients may need,” said Plaza. “Being proactive and checking for future medical needs maintains readiness and strengthens our force. Every team member brings an innovative and different perspective that someone else hasn’t thought of. That’s definitely an awesome team dynamic that I get to enjoy every day.”

The immunization clinic is open Monday through Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 to 4 p.m. for immunization walk-ins. To make an appointment, call 505-846-3200.