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Charleston VAMC begins COVID-19 vaccination

illiam Swinton, a U.S. Navy Veteran and Community Living Center resident, was the first Veteran to receive the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at the Ralph H. Johnson VAMC on Dec. 22, 2020. Photo by James Arrowood.
William Swinton, a U.S. Navy Veteran and Community Living Center resident, was the first Veteran to receive the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at the Ralph H. Johnson VAMC on Dec. 22, 2020. Photo by James Arrowood.

The Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center is excited to announce that they began offering the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to health care personnel and Veterans residing in their Community Living Center long-term care unit on Dec. 22, 2020.

The Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center is excited to announce that they began offering the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to health care personnel and Veterans residing in their Community Living Center long-term care unit on Dec. 22, 2020. The Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center is one of 113 VA Medical Centers across the country to receive the first limited supply of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

“We are excited to be offering the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to our health care personnel and the Veterans living in our Community Living Center,” said Ralph H. Johnson VAMC Director and CEO Scott Isaacks. “Receiving the vaccine is like having hope delivered. As vaccine supplies increase, our ultimate goal is to offer COVID-19 vaccination to all Veterans and employees who want to be vaccinated.”

Charleston VAMC’s first Veteran to receive the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine was William Swinton, a U.S. Navy Veteran who lives in their Community Living Center long-term care unit. He was vaccinated just hours after the Moderna vaccine arrived at the VA on Dec.22. He was vaccinated along with the other eight residents on that unit who wished to receive the vaccine.

After those initial high-risk Veterans were vaccinated, Charleston VA began vaccinating their medical center staff. Jeff Beaulieu was the first employee to receive the COVID-19 vaccine on Dec.22. Jeff is a nurse in the Intensive Care Unit and has been caring for our Veterans with COVID-19 since the pandemic began in March 2020.

About the vaccine

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized two COVID-19 vaccines via an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA): Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine was 94% effective in clinical trials in preventing COVID-19 disease. The vaccine is administered in two doses, 28 days apart. The side effects appear similar to those of other vaccines and are short-lived.

Who will be offered the vaccine first?

The initial supply of the vaccine is limited. Per CDC guidance, VA will begin vaccinating health care personnel – as they are essential in continuing to care for patients throughout the pandemic – and Veteran inpatients in Community Living Centers and Spinal Cord Injury and Disorder Centers. VA will vaccinate additional Veterans at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19 after health care personnel have been offered vaccine.

VA’s ultimate goal is to offer the vaccine to all Veterans and employees who want to be vaccinated. Contacting Veterans for vaccine appointments It is important to understand that many Veterans will not be able to get the vaccine during this initial rollout. To reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19, Veterans should not come into a VA facility looking to receive a vaccine, nor to schedule a vaccine appointment. Care teams will contact Veterans when a vaccine is available, based on their personal risk factors and vaccine availability. However, Veterans can sign up to get updated information at this site.

Keep up the 3W’s!

It’s important for everyone to continue using all the tools available to help stop this pandemic as we learn more about how COVID-19 vaccines work in real-world conditions. Even after vaccination, Veterans and employees should continue to:

  • Wear a face covering
  • Watch your distance (stay 6 feet apart)
  • Wash hands frequently

Please continue to follow federal, state and local safety guidelines.

VA is eager to begin administering the vaccine and asks all Veterans and VA health care personnel for their patience during this initial rollout.

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