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Despite wide access, COVID vaccination numbers low among MT veterans

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Posted at 8:37 AM, Apr 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-20 10:37:51-04

KALISPELL — Montana VA Health Care officials are urging veterans to sign up for COVID-19 vaccine clinics being held across the state and are working on educating veterans on the benefits of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.

“Show up at our vaccine clinics we would be happy to take a walk-in, get you vaccinated and help get you protected, help get the State of Montana closer to that herd immunity,” Montana VA Telehealth Coordinator Tom Carlson tells MTN News.

All Montana veterans, veteran spouses and caregivers are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine by Montana VA officials. Carlson said Montana VA COVID clinics have ramped up across the state this past month offering both first and second doses of the vaccine.

“We’ve been able to get several veterans into our vaccine clinics for not only first dose but in many of those cases a lot of second doses over the past few weeks,” said Carlson.

Despite the wide availability of COVID-19 vaccine access, the number of total veterans vaccinated in the Montana VA Health Care System is under 10,000. According to data provided from the Montana VA, 47,000 Veterans are enrolled in the Montana VA Healthcare System and only 8,516 Veterans are completely vaccinated.

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The numbers also show 8,045 veterans have completed two doses of the Moderna vaccine while 471 doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine have been administered. A total of 1,462 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered to veterans in Kalispell while 2,702 doses have been administered to veterans in Missoula.

"We’re starting to see the challenge now in reaching a population that’s either hesitant or hasn’t made it a priority to come in and get vaccinated," Carlson tells MTN News.

Carlson said the VA is hosting a weekly COVID-19 vaccine information session where veterans can call in with any vaccine concerns or questions and speak with qualified health care professionals. He said the information session is held each Friday from 12:30 p.m. until 1 p.m. To join the conversation, veterans are asked to call 1-872-701-0185. When prompted, enter 959 246 368#.

“If you’re going to make an informed decision, we want it to be good information that you’re using, if you don’t get the vaccine, please at least keep wearing a mask, keep that physical distancing so that you don’t get sick with COVID-19 or if you do have COVID-19 that you’re not getting others sick with COVID-19," said Carlson.

Upcoming Montana VA COVID-19 vaccine clinics in Missoula:

  • David J. Thatcher VA Clinic, 2687 Palmer Street, Date: 4/20 from 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. Walk-in appointments are available, based on availability, 9:00-11:30 a.m.
  • David J. Thatcher VA Clinic, 2687 Palmer Street, Date: 4/21 from 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. Walk-in appointments are available, based on availability, 9:00-11:30 a.m.

Upcoming Montana VA COVID-19 vaccine clinics in Kalispell:

  1. Flathead County Fairgrounds, Trade Building, 265 N Meridian Road, Kalispell, Date: 4/27 from 9:00 a.m. - 3:15 p.m. Walk-in appointments are available, based on availability, from 1-3:00 p.m.