As vaccine supplies increase, additional veterans will receive vaccinations based on age, existing health problems and other factors that increase the risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19. The vaccines will be offered at no cost to all service members enrolled in VA health care, it said.

“VA is well prepared and positioned to begin COVID-19 vaccinations,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie in a press statement. “Our ultimate goal is to offer it to all veterans and employees who want to be vaccinated.”

‘Herculean effort’

The VA submitted an order for 73,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and an additional 122,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine to be distributed once it has authorization from the Food and Drug Administration.

“It is not an adequate amount,” said Richard Stone, M.D., executive in charge at the VA’s Veterans Health Administration at a recent Senate hearing. “This will be a long process for us to reach all 7 million veterans who we believe will want vaccinations from us, as well as all 400,000 employees at the agency.”

Since both vaccines require two doses delivered at different times, Stone said, the “tracking of the veteran and employee who receives them is going to be a Herculean effort.”

The VA anticipates receiving weekly distributions of the vaccine, though it does not know how many doses there will be in each delivery. Meanwhile, an additional 36 freezers that can store the Pfizer vaccine at the required minus 70 degrees are expected to enter the VA system to help increase the number of locations offering the treatment.

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