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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)
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.

When 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 enjoyable activities.

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 scholarships.

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 sector.

“I’m most proud of my role as a nurse mentor,” she said.

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.

Adams-Ender 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.

She also 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 more active.

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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