While reviewing the Veterans Health Administration’s (VHA) plans to document receipt and distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine, the VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) determined that VHA facilities did not consistently document the COVID-19 vaccination status of veterans living in VA’s Community Living Centers (CLCs).
The OIG determined that VHA could not know at a national level whether the vaccine was offered to some CLC residents, and if so, what their status was. Because CLC residents are in the highest COVID-19 vaccine priority group, they should be offered the vaccine, when possible, before other groups of veterans. With vaccine supplies limited, VHA should know which CLC residents still need to be vaccinated.
The OIG found VHA has made important strides in distributing vaccines to CLC residents, but can move toward more comprehensive and consistent data collection to guide ongoing actions and protect this vulnerable population. Doing so would include making sure all CLCs routinely track refusals and contraindications in a consistent manner. Guidance should be clear that all communications should be consistently documented in accordance with VHA processes.
Similarly, clear guidance and consistent oversight should help ensure CLCs are properly tracking veterans who fall in the 23 percent of CLC residents missing information needed to determine their vaccination status. It was not possible by January 2021 to establish which of the 1,899 veterans in this cohort had been offered the vaccine.
The OIG will continue its oversight work on vaccinations within VHA and plans to issue a full report, including specific recommendations. In the meantime, the OIG requests to know what action, if any, VHA takes to mitigate the potential risks identified in this memorandum and the outcome of those actions.