This week, we began vaccinating key VA Central Office (VACO) leaders and staff who are vital to our national health care operations or who regularly interact with Veterans and their families as part of their duties.
As supply permits, we are planning to vaccinate 50-100 people each day at VACO, using our colleagues on site who are physicians, so we don’t need to pull clinical staff away from caring for Veterans.
As a result, I spent part of my day Feb. 2 administering shots to my colleagues (pictured above). I am grateful to everyone who has volunteered to help.
As the largest integrated health care system in the United States, providing health care to nearly nine million enrolled Veterans, our leaders and staff need to remain healthy during this pandemic. They need to continue to provide excellent care to those who have served our nation and this is one part of our overall employee safety efforts.
Providing vaccines at more than 215 sites
Our employees across the country are working to vaccinate our health care personnel and the most vulnerable Veterans as quickly as possible. VA is currently providing vaccines at more than 215 sites nationally, with plans to expand to additional sites as vaccine supplies increase.
In just six weeks, we have already vaccinated well over 80% of our frontline health care team, and we have administered over one million doses overall. This includes over 626,000 doses to Veterans, 401,000 doses to VA employees, and over 1,200 to our sister federal agencies – mostly the Department of Homeland Security.
These numbers will continue to grow. Our work was recently highlighted in Military.com, sharing that VA has given “more vaccinations so far than 42 states.” I’m very pleased with the willingness of our employees and Veterans to receive the vaccine.
Will receive another 200,000 doses soon
We have received about 108,000 doses each week, and we consume them in three to four days. Recently, we got an increase of about 16,000 per week and have learned that we will get another 200,000 doses soon.
We anticipate using all of those as they arrive, and our current vaccination plan has the capacity for delivering between 300,000 and 600,000 doses each week. We are built for – and ready to accommodate and deliver – larger quantities when they are manufactured.
While our vaccine supply is currently limited, we anticipate an increase in weekly deliveries throughout February and March. Until VA receives an increase in vaccines, it is possible for facilities to temporarily run out of vaccines for short periods of time.
We are actively reaching out to Veterans and staff who are eligible for vaccination. To learn more about our vaccination plan, click here. You can also find and contact your local facility using this link.
Thank you to all VA employees for their hard work to get the vaccine safely from the distributors into the arms of patients and staff. As we approach the last mile of this pandemic, their good work has enabled us to reach this point and I look forward to celebrating its end with the rest of the nation and the world.
Richard Stone, M.D., is the acting under secretary for the Veterans Health Administration.