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San Diego VA starts vaccinating, saying they aim to move quickly

Posted at 5:27 PM, Dec 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-22 20:27:51-05

SAN DIEGO, Calif. (KGTV) - The VA San Diego Healthcare System began distributing its first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday, Dec. 22.

The VA received 2,800 doses of the Moderna vaccine, which is enough for their whole staff and everyone on their priority list. The first people to get the vaccine were people who either work or live in nursing care facilities and also people in the spinal chord injury unit. The VA anticipated being able to get all of those people vaccinated in the first day.

Next for the VA are people in the ICU, emergency departments and those directly caring for coronavirus patients. It was estimated that all of those people should be vaccinated in the first day or two.

Doctor Robert M. Smith is the director of VA San Diego Healthcare System and said their priority is getting people vaccinated quickly. He said they do not plan on saving any of the doses that are needed for a second vaccine 28 days after the first is injected. Rather, they will rely on the chain of command to get them those second doses in a timely manner, vaccinating as many people as they can in the meantime.

“We and the rest of San Diego are seeing a huge increase in the number of COVID patients right now and it’s really straining resources so we need to make sure our staff can stay well so they can provide that care,” said Smith.

Smith said they are starting with giving out 300 doses per day, hoping to be able to give up to 600 doses per day eventually. Once all staff are vaccinated in the next few weeks, the focus will be on the community and the 120,000 eligible veterans who are covered by the VA.

He advised veterans in the community to not reach out to the VA, saying at first, the VA will be prioritizing some veterans and contacting those who are eligible, then eventually the VA will be more flexible with allowing other veterans to walk in and get the vaccine.