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Central Texas VA begins vaccinating vets 85 years and older for COVID-19

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Posted at 8:05 PM, Jan 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-07 21:05:33-05

TEMPLE, TX — The Central Texas Veterans Health Care System has begun offering Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine to all enrolled veterans 85 years of age and older.

It's another step towards the Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) broader goal to offer COVID-19 vaccinations to all veterans and employees who want to be vaccinated

“Large scale vaccination is the key to ending the disruption of the COVID-19 virus. My team will not rest until we have vaccinated every veteran enrolled in our health care system who wishes to be inoculated,” said Medical Center Director Michael L. Kiefer. “We have several thousand doses for veterans 85 and older. However, if unused, we will expand to younger veterans.”

On Wednesday, the Central Texas VA announced as of January 6, 2021, almost 1,800 employees and 100 veterans have been vaccinated.

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Veterans 85 years and older begin receiving Moderna's Covid-19 vaccination. (Credit: Central Texas Veterans Health Care System)

"During the week of Christmas 2020, the Central Texas Veteran's Health Care System began receiving its initial supply of the Moderna vaccine," Canaan Brumley, a Veterans Affairs spokesperson, said. "Staff immediately began vaccinating veterans that were residing in the facility's community living center and our high-risk employees per the prioritization determined by the CDC and VA."

Brumley says veterans 85 years and older are being contacted to schedule vaccine appointments at VA's Waco, Temple, and Austin campuses.

"We are calling them directly and setting them up with appointments so they can receive this vaccine," Brumley said.

According to the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System, proper identification is required to verify VA enrollment and scheduling for the second dose, which is administered approximately 28 days after the first. Both vaccines are required for maximum efficacy.

The Moderna vaccine's most common side effects are injection site pain, fatigue, headaches, and any side effects that disappear in 48 hours. The clinical staff is available for assistance throughout the vaccination process.

According to McLennan County Veteran Services Officer Steve Hernandez, the recent steps at the Central Texas Veterans Health System are a positive sign.

"The veteran community is really a vulnerable class," he said.

According to Hernandez, the Central Texas veteran community is facing a large number of health challenges.

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McLennan County Veteran Service Officer Steve Hernandez said the Central Texas Veteran Community has become more vulnerable over the years.

"We've just become more vulnerable things start to surface. Agent Orange, depleted uranium.
And the sooner everyone is vaccinated, the sooner face to face interactions will be able to happen again... I'm not saying that it's going to be a cure all, fix all cure all, but it's a step in the right direction," he said.

The developments are another step towards the Department of Veterans Affairs' broader goal to offer COVID-19 vaccinations to all veterans and employees who want to be vaccinated.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced it had administered the initial COVID-19 vaccine doses to more than 14,000 veterans considered high-risk of infection and more than 132,000 healthcare employees January 4.

The gradual increase in vaccinations administered is part of the VA's Covid-19 Distribution Plan, which began at 37 initial VA medical centers selected on their capacity to store the vaccine and offer high-throughput vaccination. However, according to the VA, the number of sites has expanded to 195 facilities spread across the country with more planning to be added.

Under the current plan, the Department of Veterans Affairs is currently offering vaccines to two groups of individuals, including veterans living in long-term care facilities and VA health care personnel.

After these first two groups, the VA will begin to offer vaccines to more veterans at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19. According to the VA's COVID-19 vaccine website, those eligible to get a vaccine will have their VA health team contact them.

"You don’t need to reserve a vaccine, or come to a VA facility to request or receive a vaccine until we contact you. Our staff will only provide vaccines to Veterans who are currently eligible for one based on VA and CDC risk criteria."
Covid-19 vaccines information page

Veterans can receive the latest information and sign-up for updates by visiting here.