Source: United States House of Representatives – Congressman Roger Marshall (1st District of Kansas)
WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Monday, the first Americans began receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, which included health care providers and veterans residing in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) long-term care facilities. Kansas VA facilities were not among the first to receive doses due to a lack of extreme cold storage required for the Pfizer vaccine, but are expected to receive their first doses of a COVID-19 vaccine in a week or two, ensuring vulnerable veterans and health care providers are protected from the virus.
“Veterans in our long-term care facilities are not only vulnerable individuals, but are of the most deserving of this vaccine,” said U.S. Representative Roger Marshall, M.D. “I spoke with VA officials about the distribution of doses to our veteran facilities, especially those caring for elderly veterans, and have been assured that doses will be arriving in Kansas shortly. These brave men and women put their lives on the line to protect our country. Therefore we must do everything we can to protect their lives and the lives of those that they depend on for care.”
Kansas is home to three federal VA facilities located in Wichita, Topeka, and Leavenworth, and two state soldier homes located in Winfield and Fort Dodge. The federal facilities will receive vaccine doses as part of the VA’s national vaccine distribution plan, but the state facilities will be required to work with national pharmacy chains to receive doses of the vaccine for residents and staff.
“My staff has been in contact with leadership at both soldier homes to ensure they have a plan in place to receive the vaccine,” said Rep. Marshall. “It is essential we do not let these homes fall through the cracks and do all we can to move them to the front of the line. My office stands ready and willing to provide support to our state and federal facilities. We must prioritize the health and wellbeing of our veterans.”
The Administration’s distribution plan will ensure that any veteran who wants the COVID-19 vaccine will have access, with no cost to the individual. Vaccination is not mandated. Veterans in the VA long-term care facilities (LTCFs) will be the first patient group to receive the vaccine. Health care workers in LTCFs will also receive the vaccine, in order to slow infection spread and to maintain care services. As vaccine supplies increase, veterans outside of LTCFs will receive vaccinations based on factors such as age and existing health problems.
The VA will report directly to the CDC data on all vaccine doses administered by VA. The department will also provide general, public updates on the number of people who receive the vaccination at these sites, similar to how VA posts COVID-19 testing figures.
Veterans seeking additional information may sign up to receive updates through VA’s COVID-19 Vaccine Keep Me Informed tool, visit the VA Coronavirus Vaccine FAQs webpage, contact their care team, or visit their facility website.