I hope this article finds everyone safe and healthy, both physically and mentally! Of course, the COVID-19 virus is a challenge to us health wise and the isolation and conforming to an every changing set of rules/guidelines doesn’t help our mental attitude much either. But, the good news, it appears the vaccine is on its way ... in fact, some quantities are here but in storage waiting for the final release.
Much is in the news about who gets the first round of doses and when the vaccine will be available the general public. But, if you are a veteran in the VA healthcare system, until last week, nothing was really known. On Dec. 3, the Maine VA held a virtual Town Hall meeting to discuss the preparations they have been doing for the eventual inoculations of those enrolled veterans. The Town Hall was “streamed” into our Legion Hall for those without the capability to participate. So, for those who didn’t attend, my biggest takeaway is that the VA Togus has been working diligently since the pandemic started to prepare for the release of the vaccine. Of course, just like the daily reports we get in local media, there is still lots of unknowns. But, it was clear that the VA knows what the issues are and are evaluating all potential courses of action.
The Town Hall format did allow questions via “’chat” which I took full advantage of. There were some questions that actually the VA hadn’t thought about so were really appreciative of the feedback. So, here are a few things I learned. First, the VA is in a different supply chain than the state, so when you hear that the state is getting so many doses, that does not include what the VA/Togus is getting. But, the initial round will be minimal, just as the with the state. The first to get the vaccine will be similar to the state, both following the guidelines of the CDC. The VA will be actually going through all their electronic health records to determine the priority group. The VA will contact the veterans in this priority group and will set up an appointment. They do not want the veterans to call to make appointments at this point. A question about whether a caregiver could get the vaccine if not a veteran, and the answer was that they have gone back to VA headquarters with that question. If a veteran can get the vaccine in the community first, should they get it, the answer is “yes.” But, where you get the first dose is where you should get the second. Storage is an issue which means that the only place to get the vaccine initially will be at Togus.
The next Post meeting will be Dec. 14 via Zoom only. To connect, go to Meeting ID: 899 4679 9991 and Passcode: 900854. Or mobile: 1 646 876 9923, ID: 899 4679 9991#, 0#, 900854#.