WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced today it has administered initial COVID-19 vaccine doses to more than 14,000 Veterans at high risk of getting COVID-19 infection, and more than 132,000 health care employees as of Jan. 4.
In accordance with VA’s COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Plan, the department started vaccination efforts at 37 initial VA medical centers, following the Food and Drug Administration’s Dec. 11 decision to issue an Emergency Use Authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine.
The 37 initial sites to first receive the vaccine were selected based on several factors, including having the capacity to store the vaccine at extremely cold temperatures and the ability to offer high-throughput vaccination. Shortly after, VA included 128 additional sites to the original list. To date, the list of sites has grown to 195 VA facilities spread out across the country with more being added.
“This is a massive undertaking that is happening at rapid pace,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “This week, the initial 37 sites that received the first limited Pfizer-BioNTech allocations are beginning to administer the second dose.”
The second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine should be administered 21-days after the first vaccination while the second Moderna dose should be administered 28-days after the first. VA began administering Moderna the week of Dec. 21, 2020. Both vaccines require two doses for maximum efficacy.
VA’s ultimate goal is to offer COVID-19 vaccinations to all Veterans and employees who want to be vaccinated. As vaccine supplies increase, VA care teams will reach out to eligible Veterans to schedule vaccinations.
Veterans can get up-to-date information and sign up to receive updates on VA’s COVID Vaccine webpage.