LEE COUNTY, Fla. — COVID-19 vaccinations are underway at the Lee County VA Healthcare Center. The VA medical center is one of numerous VA medical centers across the country to receive the first supply of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.
According to the CDC’s 1A prioritization, these sites were identified based on the need to receive the vaccine.
"We're following the CDC stratification tool, and the very top of that, we started with our nursing home residents and staff," said Jonathan Benoit, Associate Director of Bay Pines VA Healthcare System.
The vaccination of healthcare personal and nursing home residents started in December, and now the Lee County VA Healthcare Center is entering the B Phase of its vaccination plan.
"Now we're doing direct outreach to high-risk veterans," said Benoit, "which include patients receiving chemotherapy, veterans with transplants, homeless veterans, and also veterans 75 years and older."
The Bay Pines VA Healthcare System, the Lee County VA Healthcare Center's parent company, serves nearly 130,000 veterans across 10 counties in Florida, including Lee, Collier, and Charlotte.
"We have approximately 28,000 [veterans] in that [high-risk] group that are part of the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System," said Benoit.
Benoit says high-risk veterans will be contacted directly to schedule an appointment as part of the vaccination plan.
There is no need to preregister or go to the healthcare center to sign up.
"We have been provided at this point with enough vaccines to work through our first allocations, and we're still working with our B group," said Benoit.
The Lee County Medical VA Healthcare Center says receiving the COVID-19 vaccine is like having hope delivered.
As supplies increases, the facility's ultimate goal is to offer the vaccine to all enrolled veterans and all employees who wish to be vaccinated.
"Our focus is being able to vaccinate... all veterans as quickly as possible," said Benoit.
Veterans can also contact their health care provider or call the VISN 8 Clinical Contact Center toll-free at 1-877-741-3400.