Today, the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) Veterans Health Administration vaccinated its 1 millionth Veteran with their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
The Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center has administered more than 11,054 first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to local Veterans and 3,015 second doses. The VA began COVID-19 immunizations in December 2020. As of February 17th, VA has vaccinated 329,685 Veterans with a second dose.
Second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are given 21 days after the first dose, second doses of the Moderna vaccine are given 28 days after the first dose; the second dose completes the course of vaccination.
VA’s COVID-19 National Summary publishes vaccination data daily on Veterans, including information on employee and federal partner vaccinations. For those reviewing the site, when an individual receives both doses from VA, they have completed their vaccine course; therefore, “second dose” and “completed” are synonymous.
VA follows current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance and the VA COVID-19 Vaccination Distribution Plan. During the limited supply phase, VA facilities have made progress through CDC Phase 1a and are offering vaccines to Veterans in Phase 1b, which includes Veterans aged 75 and older. However, some sites are offering vaccine to additional Veterans at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 as supply permits. The Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center is offering the COVID-19 vaccine to Veterans ages 65 and older and assessing need based on current medical conditions.
“VA guidance encourages local flexibility in order to maximize COVID-19 vaccine access and efficiency and limit potential vaccine waste,” said Acting VA Under Secretary for Health Richard Stone, M.D. “In this limited supply phase, our COVID-19 vaccination strategy is balancing site-specific resources, facility needs, vaccine availability, and status of the pandemic locally, as well as strict storage, handling and transportation parameters of available vaccines.”
Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center Director & CEO Scott Isaacks said, “We are encouraged by the number of Lowcountry Veterans we have been able to vaccinate so far and look forward to meeting VA’s goal of offering vaccines to all eligible Veterans and employees who want to be vaccinated. As one of the first VA’s to be authorized to administer both the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, we are maximizing our efforts to get as many Veterans vaccinated as quickly as we can, as supply allows.”
The Ralph H. Johnson VAMC is reaching out to Veterans who are eligible for vaccination. Veterans can also check www.charletson.va.gov for regular updates on COVID-19 vaccine distribution at the Charleston VAMC and community clinics. Veterans who would like additional information can visit the VA COVID-19 vaccines webpage or contact their care team.
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