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Moulton: Veterans should go through VA for vaccine
Salem News - 1/27/2021
Jan. 27—SALEM — Frustrated with the pace of the state's COVID-19 vaccine rollout, Congressman Seth Moulton on Tuesday urged veterans, especially those age 75 and older, to enroll in the VA health care system if they haven't already in order to get vaccinated.
"The coronavirus vaccine is the most precious commodity on the planet, but it is useless unless it is in people's arms. Too many doses in our state are sitting in freezers," Moulton, a Salem Democrat, said in a statement. "We've got to get as many people as possible vaccinated as quickly as possible. Let's get creative: medical vans with the vaccine should be available in underserved communities 24/7; veterans should enroll with the VA; and Primary Care Providers should receive doses for patients who qualify."
The Baker administration said that as of this past weekend, 876,125 doses had been shipped to pharmacies and other providers in Massachusetts, and 448,982 first and second doses of vaccine had been administered. Data collected by the Centers for Disease Control put Massachusetts 28th in the country for doses administered per capita, behind New York and all five other New England states.
In an interview last week with WBZ, Moulton criticized the state's rollout pace.
"Clearly it's not going fast enough," he said. "We have to work with the Baker administration to make sure it improves, it gets better, and that we vaccinate as many people as possible as quickly as possible."
The federal Veterans Affairs health care system is immunizing veterans independently from the state.
As of last week, the VA Bedford Health Care System, located in the Sixth District that Moulton represents, has administered more than 4,600 vaccines to veterans and its employees. According to Moulton's office, the system is running a vaccine clinic 12 hours a day, seven days a week, and more than 500 of the system's Community Living Center residents have already had their second doses.
The VA system is only offering the vaccine to eligible people who are enrolled in the VA. Veterans can learn more at https://www.va.gov/health-care/eligibility/.
Moulton acknowledged that the VA's vaccination program hasn't been perfect. Last week, a cleaning crew accidentally unplugged a freezer at the VA in Jamaica Plain, spoiling nearly 2,000 vaccine doses.
While the incident is inexcusable, Moulton was encouraged by the regional VA leadership's prompt disclosure of the problem, the Inspector General's visit to the facility after the incident, and assurances from the VA that the spoiled doses will not slow the pace of the vaccine's administration to VA patients.
Materials from the State House News Service was used in this report.
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