How US veterans can get COVID-19 vaccines

The VA has vaccinated close to a million patients. Here are the qualifications.

This story originally featured on Task & Purpose.

As vaccinations for the COVID-19 pandemic continue, Task & Purpose has received questions from veterans and readers, and has seen a number of comments online, asking for details on where and how to get vaccinated through the Department of Veterans Affairs. So we decided to gather the relevant information in one spot, to make things a little easier for veterans to find out when, where, and how they can get vaccinated through the VA.

The VA is focusing on “local flexibility” to ensure that “no vaccine is wasted as we work to vaccinate all our veterans and employees who want to be vaccinated as quickly as possible,” agency spokesman Randal Noller tells Task & Purpose. “Veterans who are enrolled and receiving care in VA will be contacted by their care team when they are eligible for vaccination. Veterans should wait to hear from their care team before scheduling an appointment, and stay tuned to their local website for announcement of mass vaccination events in their area.”

Nationwide on average, VA facilities are currently in Phase 1a and entering Phase 1b of vaccinations, Noller says. Phase 1a refers to the vaccination of healthcare workers and first responders who might be at risk of contracting COVID-19, as well as older adults living in congregated or overcrowded housing. Generally, Phase 1b refers to those age 75 and over, according to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“Veterans 75 years of age and older fall into Phase 1b, and facilities can start offering the vaccine to persons in 1b when they have made good progress through Phase 1a,” Noller says.

Additionally, the VA website explains that it is currently vaccinating the following groups at some VA facilities: VA healthcare personnel; veterans living in VA long-term care facilities; and those veterans who receive care through the VA and are deemed to be at high risk from COVID-19 based on the VA and CDC risk criteria.

“At many VA healthcare facilities, this group includes all veterans who are at least 75 years old,” reads the VA website. “Each facility will determine when veterans in this group can receive a vaccine. They’ll base this decision on vaccine availability, local needs, as well as the strict storage and handling requirements of the vaccines.”

To get specifics about vaccinations at your local VA health facility, you’ll need to go to your facility’s website—if you’re unsure of how to do that, you can use this VA facility location finder here. Once you’re on the facility website menu, go to “health care services,” and then go to “COVID-19.” Alternatively, you can send a secure message to your VA healthcare provider directly to find out if you’re in need of a vaccine, or eligible to get one at this time.

For more insight on the VA vaccination system, head over to Task & Purpose.