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Team's aid gets vaccine to vets

by Eplunus Colvin | January 21, 2021 at 3:03 a.m.
FILE - In this Monday, May 25, 2020 file photo, a vile of a covid-19 vaccine candidate on a shelf during testing at the Chula Vaccine Research Center, run by Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand.

The Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System deployed members of its covid-19 vaccination team to Veterans Affairs clinics in Mountain Home, Pine Bluff and El Dorado last week to provide shots to approximately 100 veterans.

Chris A. Durney, public affairs officer for the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System, said the clinics, following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are administering shots to veterans age 75 and over, those on dialysis, those undergoing chemotherapy, those who have had a transplant, and those who are homeless.

"We have a mobile team that is going out to all of the community-based outpatient clinics to take care of these populations," said Durney. "We have a large population in the older range of 75-plus and will get through those first based on the availability of the vaccine."

The VA is currently prioritizing vaccine doses for veterans in accordance with the state's vaccination phases. Veterans are contacted by a Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System staff member when it is time to schedule a vaccination.

"We encourage the vaccination for everybody," said Durney. "We get a limited number every week, and we run through those as quickly as we possibly can."

Durney explained the process, stating that once medical personnel remove the vaccine from its freezer storage location, it has to be administered that day.

"We don't waste a single dose anywhere along the lines," said Durney, who added that the system is administering the Moderna vaccine. "If we have a dose or two left at the end of the day, we'll reach out and say come on in so we can take care of you."

The mobile covid-19 vaccination team will return to the Pine Bluff VA clinic from 1 to 3 p.m. on Monday and next Wednesday.


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