The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announced Dec. 30 that it has administered initial COVID-19 vaccine doses to more than 5,000 veterans residing in its Community Living Centers and Spinal Cord Injury and Disorders Centers and more than 50,000 health care employees in its first two weeks (Dec. 14-Dec. 27) of providing COVID-19 vaccines.
VA began vaccinating veterans and frontline employees at 37 initial VA medical centers according to its COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Plan, following the Food and Drug Administration’s Dec. 11 decision to issue an Emergency Use Authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine.
The 37 initial sites to first receive the vaccine were selected based on several factors, including having the capacity to store the vaccine at extremely cold temperatures and the ability to offer high-throughput vaccination. Last week, VA announced it began COVID-19 vaccinations at 128 additional sites using the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines. Both vaccines require two doses for maximum efficacy.
“I couldn’t be happier with the work VA employees are doing in taking this important first step toward the end of the pandemic,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “Successfully implementing a plan like this in the nation’s largest health care system takes planning, collaboration and teamwork. As vaccines become more widely available, we will continue to implement our plan to offer them to any veteran or employee who wants one at no cost.”
Per recommendations from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, VA will continue to vaccinate health care personnel, as well as community living center and spinal cord unit residents.
VA’s ultimate goal is to offer COVID-19 vaccinations to all veterans and employees who want to be vaccinated. As vaccine supplies increase, VA care teams will reach out to eligible veterans to schedule vaccinations. There is no need to preregister or come to a facility to sign up.
Veterans can get up-to-date information and sign up to receive updates on VA’s COVID Vaccine webpage at https://www.va.gov/health-care/covid-19-vaccine/.