ROME, N.Y. -- Veterans Affairs centers in Rome, Syracuse, Binghamton, and Watertown are working to ensure every eligible veteran who wants a COVID-19 vaccination can get one.
Lt. Col. Robert McLean is the public affairs officer at the Syracuse VA Medical Center. He says they’ve already vaccinated more than 5,000 Veterans, and have even gone to their homes to provide shots.
"Some of our staff in general, and some of who are veterans have been working seven days a week for a month and a half, and we’re dedicated to seeing that we can make those Saturday and Sunday appointments at all of our locations so that we can serve as many Veterans as possible as quickly as possible," said McLean.
Joseph Smith is a 73-year-old New Hartford veteran who’s been trying to get his shot from a New York State vaccination clinic since January, but was put on a waiting list.
"I had appointments before and they’re not until April," said Smith. "Then I heard the VA was giving them. I came right to here. I called them up like on Monday, and its Friday and I’m getting my shot."
If a veteran has received a shot from an outside agency, you’re asked to call and update your medical records with your primary care provider. The help at the VA clinic is giving very clear instructions. “Some people feel a little achy. Sometimes a little low grade fever.” If you receive a shot and start feeling really ill, notify your doctor immediately. “If you have anything more than what is described in those boxes, please document it on the back here and call your primary care team to let them know that something’s going on. “
These VA clinics will continue to provide shots for any eligible veteran who’s enrolled, and you don’t need a good reason to get a shot.
Canastota veteran Robert Popple felt he needed to justify his shot, saying "I was near people that had it, and I didn’t get it, so I don’t know….I’m not Superman. I know you can get the stuff."
Joseph Smith had other worries.
"My concerns are that people are going to get too lax, and it’s going to come back stronger than ever, so I want to be ready for it," he said.
Veterans who already receive care at the VA, will be contacted by their facility when they can get a vaccine.
Veterans who are not enrolled or do not currently receive care at VA can visit the VA's Eligibility website to learn more.
To get the latest updates and sign up to stay informed about COVID-19 vaccines, visit VA's vaccine information page here.