HAVRE, Mont. - The Department of Veterans Affairs announced 250 veterans will receive their first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in Havre Thursday.
The Montana VA Health Care System (MTVAHCS) was chosen to be the forefront of the VHA pilot program bringing vaccines to rural veterans nationwide.
“With the vaccines, our Veterans and staff finally have the tool they need to stay safe during the pandemic,” executive director Judy Hayman wrote in a release from the VA. “We are grateful MTVAHCS was selected to lead this pilot program to bring vaccines to rural Veterans. It has been uplifting to see Veterans’ relief and joy in being able to get the vaccine. Veterans have shared that they are getting the vaccine so they can protect themselves, their loved ones, healthcare professionals, and return to a life where masking is not required, and people can safely come together.”
The VA's release stated more than 600 veterans and 850 MTVAHCS employees have had their first Moderna vaccine dose -- in addition, 200 veterans are set to get their first dose in Billings Thursday and in Bozeman Friday. So far, MTVAHCS has held vaccination clinics in Miles City, Fort Harrison, Missoula and Billings.
MTVAHCS will host vaccination clinics until all veterans registered with the Veteran Health Administration who wish to get vaccinated complete their vaccinations as vaccine doses roll out, the VA stated.
“Veterans have shown incredible leadership in serving our country and putting their communities before themselves. I have seen this time and time again during the pandemic,” MTVAHCS Chief of Staff, Dr. JP Maganito said in the release. “I hope all Montanans follow the example of the Veterans who chose to get their vaccine today, and that each person take up their role in helping us end this pandemic.”
The VA asks registered veterans to not contact their nearby clinic or the MTVAHCS to schedule a vaccine appointment -- MTVAHCS will contact veterans dependent on their risk grouping and vaccine availability. Increased risk veterans consist of those over the age of 75-years-old and those with an underlying health condition.
Veterans not registered with the VHA are encouraged to call (406) 447-7350 to see if they qualify for the program as soon as possible.