Expected approval of 2nd COVID-19 vaccine brings new hope for veterans

Published: Dec. 17, 2020 at 7:08 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - More COVID-19 vaccines are on the way for Kansans. This time, that includes Kansas veterans. Nationwide, some veterans were able to get the Pfizer vaccine this week, but that was not the case in Kansas. The anticipated availability of the Moderna vaccine in days ahead brings local veterans new hope.

Kansas veteran facilities like the Robert J. Dole VA Medical Center in Wichita were not able to get the Pfizer vaccine because they don’t have the ultra-cold storage needed for the vaccine. The Moderna vaccine doesn’t require ultra-cold storage, and once it’s approved, lawmakers said it’ll be on the way to Kansas veterans. Pending FDA approval, Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) said the Moderna vaccine will be available for Wichita veterans on Tuesday (Dec. 22).

“Just a few days from now, we’ll have more than 1,000 doses of that vaccine at the Dole VA,” Moran said.

The goal for Kansas VA facilities is to vaccinate 150 to 250 veterans and staff members per day. But the highest priority will be soldier homes, which include long-term care facilities in Winfield and Dodge City. These are state-run facilities.

“We actually passed legislation in the Senate and the House (Wednesday) to create greater oversight by the Department of Veterans Affairs when it comes to this kind of circumstance,” Moran said.

Congressman Roger Marshall said many veterans are at an increased risk for COVID-19 complications.

“In our veterans, there’s a higher risk of diabetes, there a higher incidence of substance abuse. In general, veterans are at a higher risk, and we probably have around 20,000 veterans in the state of Kansas,” Marshall said.

He said veterans should contact their doctors to schedule appointments to get a vaccine. Getting the vaccine will come at no cost to veterans. Marshall said passing more CARES Act funding will be vital in getting the vaccine to Kansans for free.

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