VA centers can now give COVID-19 vaccines to all veterans, their spouses, caregivers

COVID-19 Vaccine

Medical staff prepares an AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine during preparations at the vaccine center in Ebersberg near Munich, Germany, Monday, March 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

WASHINGTON (WAVY/WIAT) — President Joe Biden signed the SAVE LIVES Act into law Wednesday, which will expand COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to all veterans, their spouses and caregivers.

“The SAVE LIVES Act increases the number of individuals who are eligible to get lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines from VA from 9.5 million to more than 33 million,” VA Secretary Denis McDonough said. “Meeting the task of vaccinating this expanded population will be a tremendous undertaking for the VA and will require a significant increase in our allocation of vaccine supply, but I am confident that VA’s workforce is up to the task.” 

VAs across the county have been administering shots to eligible veterans and their employees since the vaccine became available. As of March 24, more than 1.5 million individuals have been fully vaccinated.

Pilot tests of COVID-19 vaccination sites will be conducted at select VAs throughout March and April. It is estimated that the VA will need to receive around 600,000 doses each week to fully vaccinate more than 9.5 million individuals. As of now, the VA only receives 200,000 doses each week.

The Hampton Veterans Affairs Medical Center (Hampton VAMC) began distributing the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine earlier this month. They have also held two vaccination clinics this month, which VAMC says was “highly successful.” Currently, the Hampton facility says it is still focusing on 1a and 1b category groups. 10 On Your Side has reached out to ask if the local facility has been selection as a pilot test site. We’ll post any updates at this link.

Veterans looking for more information on getting their vaccines and this new legislation can click here.

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