Amarillo VA Health Care System expands vaccine offering

Local News

AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — The list of those eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine continues to grow.

As of Monday, the Amarillo VA now offers both the Moderna and Janssen vaccines to all veterans, their caregivers, spouses, and beneficiaries under the ‘Save Lives Act.’

According to Executive Director at the Amarillo VA Health Care System, Dr. Rodney Gonzalez, anyone who assists a veteran with tasks like transportation needs or shopping can now be considered a caregiver and receive a vaccine.

As for spouses, Dr. Gonzalez explained, “If there’s a former spouse of a veteran and that veteran has passed away, we can still vaccinate that spouse member.”

Additionally, the Executive Director explained that there has not been a huge uptick in their numbers since the eligibility update. However, even before Monday, the VA was still able to put the vaccines to use.

“At the end of the day, sometimes we have some doses that would get wasted, and we have offered them to people… and so we have vaccinated several dozen other individuals that would have met one of those definitions in the past, but that was prior to the Save Lives Act being passed.”

As of recent, Dr. Gonzalez shared that 34% of the veterans enrolled in their health care system have been vaccinated. However, he mentioned that that number could be higher.

“Many veterans may have gotten their vaccine from a community source such as the Civic Center, Public Health Department or one of the local pharmacies, and if they haven’t shown us the card where we’ve been able to document, we wouldn’t have those in that 34% yet,” said Dr. Gonzalez.

Regardless of where the vaccinations take place, Dr. Gonzalez shared that he encourages everyone who wants a vaccine to go get it.

“We want to vaccinate every veteran that wants to be vaccinated, and I would encourage all veterans and now any spouses or caregivers to please consider getting vaccinated. If so, let us know, and we’re happy to vaccinate you,” said Dr. Gonzalez.

Those who are eligible to receive the vaccine at the Amarillo VA are encouraged to make an appointment. However, Dr. Gonzalez stated that if anyone who is eligible just shows up, they will not be turned away.

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