A measure signed into law by President Biden on March 24th means all veterans, spouses and their caregivers will be eligible to receive the coronavirus vaccine. The “Save Lives Act” increases the number eligible for the vaccine through the VA from 9 to 33 million. Since December, the VA has vaccinated close to 1.6 million veterans and 260,000 staff.
Further breakdown of who is now eligible for the vaccine with this new legislation:
- All veterans living in the United States & their spouses
- Veterans who live overseas and are active in the Foreign Medical Program
- Caregivers who are enrolled in Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers, Program of General Caregiver Support Services, Veteran Directed Care or VA’s Medical Foster Home Program
- CHAMPVA (Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs) recipients
Covid-19 Community Corps Plan
The White House has also indicated a plan, called Covid-19 Community Corps, to partner with various veterans groups, including asking faith-based groups, sports groups, and celebrities, to encourage as many Americans as possible, and veterans specifically within this plan, to trust and receive the vaccination.
According to militarytimes.com, these 10 groups are slated to be a part of the initial efforts: AMVETS, the Blinded Veterans of America, Disabled American Veterans Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Modern Military Association of America, Student Veterans of America, The Mission Continues, VetsFirst, Vietnam Veterans of America and the Women’s Veterans Interactive.
Efforts will include public health campaigns, local meetings with health leaders and those who have questions, and resource efforts and coordination to get the vaccine to more places.
Why the sudden collaboration?
- On March 31, the VA indicated 4,230 active cases in their medical centers across the country. This is around a 3% increase within the past few weeks, which is mirroring a national increase as well amongst all Americans. This may not seem like a lot when you compare it to January 2021’s high of 20,000 active cases, but the sudden increase, after a steady and fast decline, is causing some concern amongst health officials and the VA.
More Veteran Coronavirus Stats:
- Reports show that close to 243,000 VA patients have contracted the coronavirus since March of 2020.
- 11,3000 VA patients have died from coronavirus
- 136 VA employees have died from coronavirus
Despite the new legislation and collaboration efforts, the concern is still that though the veteran, spouse and caregiver vaccine allocation has increased drastically, the vaccines aren’t readily available everywhere they need to be for all eligible to receive them in a timely manner.
The Department of Veteran Affairs has phased a Covid-19 vaccination rollout plan, conducting trainings and readiness exercises. While the VA reports administering around 250,000 vaccines per week nationwide, there still isn’t a large enough supply that’s been made available to the Department of VA.
Veterans can sign up through the VA’s website here to make an appointment for the vaccine.