Today, Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) Veterans Health Administration reported vaccinating its 1 millionth Veteran with their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
VA Portland Health Care System has administered more than 12,000 first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines to local Veterans and more than 7,500 second doses. The VA began COVID-19 immunizations in December 2020. As of February 17, VA has vaccinated 329,685 of 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 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, including VA Portland, are offering vaccine to additional age groups and those at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 as supply permits.
“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.”
VA Portland Director Darwin Goodspeed said, “We are encouraged by the number of Oregon and Southwest Washington 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.”
Veterans who receive care with VA Portland and eligible for the vaccine are being contacted to schedule their vaccination. Go to www.portland.va.gov for updated information on local vaccination details as well as the national “COVID-19 vaccines at VA” website. Anyone can sign up on that main VA Portland web page to receive email updates where it says “CONNECT WITH VA PORTLAND HEALTH CARE SYSTEM.” Information will also be shared on the VA Portland Facebook page.
Veterans are asked to please not call the health care system for COVID vaccination scheduling or for updates. They are encouraged to communicate their questions or concerns about their care through their care teams, preferably through secure messaging via MyHealtheVet.