WASHINGTON (WRIC) — The Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) Veterans Health Administration reached a major milestone Wednesday, administering its 1 millionth veteran with the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
The VA began COVID-19 immunizations in December 2020. According to a release, VA has vaccinated 329,685 veterans with a second dose, as of Feb. 17, 2021.
VA officials say the department has been following current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance, as well as 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 a vaccine to additional veterans as supply permits. This includes the Central Virginia VA Health Care System (CVHCS), which began offering vaccines to veterans aged 65 and older on Feb. 1.
“VA guidance encourages local flexibility to maximize COVID-19 vaccine access and efficiency while limiting potential vaccine waste,” Acting VA Under Secretary for Health Dr. Richard Stone said. “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.”
The department’s goal is to offer vaccines to all veterans and employees who want to be vaccinated. VA is reaching out to veterans who are eligible for vaccination.