Veterans, the VA, and the COVID vaccine


ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — When it comes to the COVID-19 vaccines and distribution, many are seeing shortages across the country. With some 86,000 veterans in the Rochester region, some have emailed News 8 asking ‘where’s my shot’?

Claims of neighboring counties setting up ‘drive-thru’ vaccination clinics for veterans turned out not to be true. Monroe County does not have anything like that, either. At least, not yet. But veterans are getting priority and vaccinated at VA clinics across the region.

Lisa Lehning, the VA vaccine coordinator for the region, said during a PSA speaking on behalf of clinics here, “To date, we have vaccinated our in-patients, as well as veterans in our long-term care units, and our frontline healthcare workers.”

Lehning says they are vaccinating veterans age 75 or older, and those medically compromised. Next will be veterans ages 65 to 74 when supplies become available.

Laura Stradley with the Veterans Outreach Center in Rochester says it’s important for veterans to receive the vaccine. She says through military service, many have been exposed to toxins that can make COVID-19 serious. 

“When we think of agent orange, and the burn pits in Iraq, and even those bromide pills our Desert Storm veterans took leading to some of those unexplained illnesses, the complications from COVID could be really serious based on those exposures,” says Stradley.

As for vaccinating veterans on a county level, Dr. Michael Mendoza, the Public Health Commissioner, says this would be an option he would love to explore going forward. 

“I think we need to find ways to reach out to every corner of our community. The limitation is not only the vaccine supply but the lanes if you will that have been laid out for us by the Governor’s office and the State Health Department,” says Mendoza.

The VA says if you’re a veteran in the VA system, they’ll reach out to you when your time comes, there is no need to contact the VA. When the supply of the various vaccines increases, more veterans will get the doses they need. 

“We look forward to serving during these difficult times,” says Lehning.

To read more on the VA’s reassurance to veterans receiving healthcare and more on the vaccine, click here.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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