Walk-in COVID-19 vaccine clinic scheduled Saturday for veterans

VA medical centers around the country are expanding their rules on who is eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.

LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Veterans can get vaccinated Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., at a walk-in clinic at the VA Community Based Outpatient Center.

The center is located at 3601 Gerstner Memorial Dr. in Lake Charles, and the J&J (single dose) & Moderna (2 doses required) will be available for those 18 and older.

VA medical centers around the country are expanding their rules on who is eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. In a push to get more shots in arms, the VA is ramping up efforts to get veterans vaccinated for COVID-19.

”It’s a positive, and the VA has always been a leader in this. Even though when we actually didn’t have the vaccine, because there were so many restrictions that people might not have known
about. Packaging, bringing it, we couldn’t waste one dose,” said Associate Chief Nurse Cindy Hart.

A process that has changed substantially since the vaccine was first offered to Louisiana’s veterans in January.

“We had our first Saturday clinic around February 14, and if my numbers are correct, we had over 200 veterans that came in for vaccinations.”

Hart says, in total, nearly 30 percent of local veterans have completed their vaccine series.

”Putting it into that type of perspective, the veterans and their wives and spouses are really pleased with this new federal order - and so are we.”

President Joe Biden signed the SAVE LIVES Act into law last week, expanding VA’s legal authority to provide COVID-19 vaccines to all Veterans. Regardless of their VA health care enrollment status, as well as Veteran spouses, caregivers, and some beneficiaries.

The SAVE LIVES Act removed some of the legal limits on the medical care VA can provide to Veterans, based on health care eligibility and priority groups.

The expanded authority depends on readily available COVID-19 vaccine supply and requires VA to continue to prioritize vaccinations and healthcare delivery for our Nation’s Veterans enrolled in VA care.

“The SAVE LIVES Act increases the number of individuals who are eligible to get lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines from VA from 9.5 million to more than 33 million,” VA Secretary Denis McDonough said. “Meeting the task of vaccinating this expanded population will be a tremendous undertaking for the VA and will require a significant increase in our allocation of vaccine supply. But I am confident that VA’s workforce is up to the task.”

The VA is providing COVID-19 vaccinations to Veterans and employees per its COVID-19 Vaccination Plan. As of March 24, the VA has fully vaccinated 1,594,812 individuals, including Veterans, VA employees, and federal partners.

Hart says they’re proud to offer the vaccine at the Douglas Fournet Clinic after reports that some veterans were unable to access the vaccine based on income levels.

”The more people we get vaccinated, it benefits the whole community,” Hart said.

With a year strained by the pandemic and storm recovery, she says progress on their clinic has stayed on schedule.

”Hopefully, our goal is to be back into the clinic before the summer.”

Vaccine clinics are held each Thursday afternoon at all CBOC locations and Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. -3 p.m. at the Alexandria VA.

Contact Call Center to schedule at (318) 483-5083.

Interested Veterans, their caregivers, and Veteran spouses who qualify under the legislation can click here to get more information about COVID-19 vaccines at VA.

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