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All vets, plus spouses and caregivers, eligible for COVID vaccines through VA

All vets, plus spouses and caregivers, eligible for COVID vaccines through VA

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Veteran vaccines

Nurse Jolyn Hoff talks with Army veteran David Sanderson before administering the COVID-19 Moderna vaccine during a vaccine clinic at the Benjamin Charles Steele VA Clinic in Billings in February.

Recent legislation has made all Montana veterans, along with their spouses and caregivers, eligible for COVID-19 vaccines through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Through the SAVE Lives Act, the Montana VA Health Care System will be hosting another round of clinics that will allow vaccines for vets and their families regardless of whether they are enrolled in the health care system.

“We are excited to help bring COVID-19 vaccines to Veterans’ family members and caregivers. We’ve seen the peace of mind and security these vaccines have brought to Montana’s Veterans, and we are happy we can help create safety from the pandemic in homes and communities across Montana,” said MTVAHCS Executive Director, Dr. Judy Hayman in a press release issued Wednesday.

President Joe Biden signed the Strengthening and Amplifying Vaccination Efforts to Locally Immunize all Veterans and Every Spouse Act into law March 24. The bipartisan legislation, which allows the VA to administer vaccines to all veterans, veteran spouses, caregivers and caregivers as supplies allow, also makes doses available to those enrolled in the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Sen. Jon Tester, chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, has consistently said that getting shots into the arms of as many veterans as possible has to be a top priority for both the committee and the VA.

To date, just over 1,977,000 veterans have been fully inoculated against COVID-19 through the VA health care system. Including VA employees and the department’s federal partners, a total of 2,275,723 people have been fully vaccinated, according to the VA’s national summary.

The single dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine accounts for less than 5% of doses administered by the VA. However, the department has followed a recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration in temporarily halting use of the vaccine. The pause will remain in place until the vaccine is cleared of any connection with a rare blood clot that occurred in six people out of the nearly 7 million who received the single dose.

Montana VA Health Care System Public Affairs Officer Katie Beall told The Gazette that as of Wednesday, MTVAHCS had distributed 15,606 doses of COVID-19 vaccines to clinics and facilities throughout the state. Those have included both the Johnson and Johnson and Moderna vaccine.

Beall said although MTVAHCS had previously been utilizing the single dose vaccine, it has since pivoted back to doses of Moderna for the upcoming clinics. Veterans enrolled in the VA can call (877) 468-8387 to schedule an appointment. Vets who are not enrolled, their spouses and caregivers can sign up online at Non-enrolled Veterans, their spouses, caregivers and CHAMPVA recipients can register online at www.va.gov/health-care/covid-19-vaccine/stay-informed.

Walk-in appointments will be available as supplies allow. Veterans who are not enrolled in MTVAHCS should bring their DD-214 to their vaccine appointments, according to a press release from the Montana VA.

Statewide clinics hosted by MTVAHCS will be at the following locations throughout the week:

Billings: Benjamin Steele VA Clinic, 1766 Majestic Lane

Upcoming dates: April 15, April 22, and April 29

Time: 8:30 a.m. until 11 a.m.

Walk-in appointments are available, based on availability, from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m.

Bozeman: Gallatin County Fairgrounds, 901 N. Black Avenue, Building #3

Date: April 16

Time: 9:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.

Walk-in appointments are available, based on availability, from 9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Helena: Montana Army National Guard Aviation Readiness Center, 3330 Skyway Drive

Date: April 17

Time: 9:00 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Walk-in appointments are available, based on availability, from 1-3 p.m.

Kalispell: Flathead County Fairgrounds, Trade Building, 265 N Meridian Road

Date: April 27

Time: 1-3 p.m.

Walk-in appointments are available, based on availability, from 1-3 p.m.

Missoula: David J. Thatcher VA Clinic, 2687 Palmer Street

Date: April 20

Time: 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Walk-in appointments are available, based on availability, 9-11:30 a.m.

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