81 Year-Old Retired Army Nurse Administering COVID-19 Vaccines
by U.S. Army Medical Command
May 10, 2021
At 81 years of age, retired Brigadier General Clara Adams-Ender,
the 18th Chief of the U.S. Army Nurse Corps, has volunteered to
combat COVID-19 by vaccinating her community, bringing individuals
one step closer to normalcy. She serves on the frontline at
PediatricCare Northern Virginia, Manassas, Virginia.
81 year-old retired Brigadier General Clara Adams-Ender, the 18th Chief of the U.S. Army Nurse Corps, serves on the frontline in Manassas, Virginia, where she is working to make a difference in people’s lives by administering COVID-19 vaccines and sharing her 60-plus years of experience as a nurse, leader, and professional. (U.S. Army Photo by Otis Toussaint, MEDCOM/OTSG
- April 29, 2021)
She is putting
her 60-plus years of experience as a nurse, leader, and professional
to work to make a difference in people’s lives.
Adams-Ender was on the Board of Medicine in the Richmond, Virginia,
area, she and her peers discussed with the Medical Reserve Corps of
Virginia the need for a reserve of healthcare professionals
consisting of physicians, nurses, dieticians, and other healthcare
professions willing to give their time and skills during an
emergency situation. The pandemic offered the opportunity to make
this vision a reality.
One of the first steps was to pass
all the proper protocols and follow the steps to include that
licenses were current.
Adams-Ender explained that she
believes in the science behind developing a vaccine to address this
virus. She has met and communicated with scientists at Johns
Hopkins, Baltimore, Maryland, about control studies on the vaccine
and whether people of color and “seasoned” adults like herself were
part of their control groups.
People of color often have
reservations about taking the vaccine, she said. So, she has shared
information about the studies with people of color, older adults,
and people who have questions.
Adams-Ender received the
Pfizer vaccine but is also knowledgeable about Moderna and J & J
(Janssen) vaccines and is confident that they are safe and
effective. When it was her turn to get the vaccine, she stated that
she gladly rolled up her sleeve, especially given the millions of
individuals have succumbed to the virus.
She stated that
this communicable disease is her priority and she hopes that it is
everyone’s priority as everyone wants to get out of the house, see
family and friends, and get back to eating out, traveling, and doing
Adams-Ender has had many conversations
with family, friends, and individuals about the importance of
getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Her passion for serving others is all
part of her outgoing personality, her love for talking to people,
and her concern for others, as evidenced through education.
She explained that an important job as a nurse is to educate. While
on active duty, she instituted strategies to recruit and retain
military nurses through programs such as the Army Nurse Candidate
Program, the Accession Bonus Program, and the introduction of
incentive pay to address the critically low numbers of certified
registered nurse anesthetists. She also developed the AMEDD Enlisted
Commissioning Program and expanded Reserve Officers’ Training Corps
She also established a nursing leadership
mentoring program called “Chief Nurse for a Day” where senior nurse
leaders took over as Chief Nurse and were required to discuss and
share their experiences with nursing leaders. Adams-Ender said, It
was a highly successful program and many of the leaders went on to
be chief nurses in the Army or VPs of nursing in the civilian
“I’m most proud of my role as a nurse mentor,” she
In addition, Adams-Ender staunchly defended the notion
of the baccalaureate degree as the minimum entry standard for Army
nurses. She testified every year before Congress, placed Army Nurse
Corps fellows in various Congressional offices, and supported the
creation of innovative organizational configurations to enhance
hospitals’ efficiency and quality of care.
She noted that,
since January 2021, about 40% of Americans have been vaccinated.
Each day we get one step closer to herd immunity. She believes that
we need to get to 80% because standards can be relaxed for large
gatherings, masks, and staying 6- feet apart.
recommends that any individuals looking for accurate information on
COVID-19 and the vaccines use the CDC, public health, and local
health department websites. These websites share many frequently
asked questions to combat mis- and dis-information.
highlighted the importance of our service members getting the
vaccine as it is important to be ready for deployment at any time.
She also encouraged other medical professionals to volunteer in
order to give back while shedding the “COVID pounds” by becoming
Adams-Ender is happy to be part of making sure
our country is able to move forward by using her 60 years of nursing
experience. To deal with health care in this country today and stamp
out the virus, people must get vaccinated.
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