Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is the best way to protect others and health care workers from hospitalization and death, VA Secretary Denis McDonough said Jan. 19 at a Blue Star Families online forum.
McDonough reiterated that getting vaccinated is the most important thing Veterans can do to protect other Veterans and active-duty service members.
“You know, the best advice I can give everyone is this: listen to Dr. Fauci,” McDonough said. “Follow his guidance. Listen to your personal care providers. Follow their guidance. Why? Because it’s the best way to keep yourself safe, the best way to keep your families safe. Because we owe it to each other to help keep everyone safe.”
He said ending the spread of COVID-19 is VA’s call to service and the right thing to do.
Health care workers
“Since the pandemic hit, they’ve been risking their lives, non-stop, for you, for me, for Vets, for our country, for all of us,” the secretary said. “That’s no exaggeration. It’s been nearly two years since we started celebrating their courageous, tireless service as the pandemic gained a foothold.”
McDonough told the story of how, in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, people in New York City would bang pots and pans. To show appreciation now, people should get vaccinated for those health care workers who haven’t stopped working.
“Day after day, night after night, they’re still risking their lives, their families’ lives—for us,” he said. ” And nowhere is that more true than among our VA employees serving Veterans, their families and their caregivers. Serving you, your families, your caregivers. They’re working grueling, excruciatingly long hours to save lives.”
VA health care workers have vaccinated more than 4 million Veterans, 80,000 spouses and 21,000 caregivers. Additionally, they’ve boosted more than 1.2 million Veterans. Despite this, there was more than 15,000 VA health care professionals unable to work due to COVID-19 earlier in January. The previous high was 6,000 in December 2020.
McDonough added that VA personnel deployed beyond their duty stations over 5,000 times to care for Veterans and people in their communities. He also highlighted how VA aided the country through the department’s 4th mission, helping communities while never once denying a bed to a Veteran. Currently, there are 130 beds available to non-Veterans in 10 different states.
For more information on the vaccine, visit COVID-19 Vaccines At VA | Veterans Affairs.
Nearly every death from COVID-19 is preventable: SecVA