GREAT FALLS — Hundreds of military veterans got one step closer on Tuesday to being fully vaccinated against COVID-19, as the Montana VA Health Care System hosted a vaccine clinic in Great Falls.
About 500 veterans signed up to receive their first shot. The Montana VA has provided 2,591 first doses of the Moderna vaccine to enrolled Montana veterans. The agency has hosted 12 similar vaccine clinics across the state; this was the first one in Great Falls.
"Just to be safe. I get the flu vaccine every year and I've never had the flu,” Army veteran Dennis Nack said when asked why he wanted to get the vaccine.
"If you're a veteran and you haven't received a call from us yet, please ensure you answer your phone when we call or if we leave a message call back as soon as possible. (VIDEO) At some point, we will get to every veteran who wants to be vaccinated across the state,” said Judy Hayman, director of the MTVAHCS.
All veterans who receive a vaccine are monitored for reactions, side effects, or adverse events. The side effects appear similar to those of other vaccines and are short-lived. After receiving the two COVID-19 vaccinations, people should continue wearing a face mask, practice physical distancing, and wash their hands often.
The VA will be back in four weeks to give the veterans their second dose of the vaccine.
“If you are an enrolled veteran and you did not receive a call from us, we understand you may be disappointed,” said Hayman. “Please remain patient as we prioritize getting vaccines first to those who are most at risk. As our vaccine supply increases, we will hold more vaccine clinics and reach veterans who are in the next risk group until all veterans who want to receive COVID-19 mmunizations have their second dose.”
As veterans become eligible based on risk stratifications and vaccine allocations, MTVAHCS staff will contact each veteran to schedule an appointment. Enrolled veterans should not call MTVAHCS or their local clinic to make a vaccine appointment.
If a veteran is not enrolled in VHA healthcare, they are encouraged to call 877-468-8387 and select Option 4 to find out if they are eligible. Unenrolled veterans are encouraged to call as soon as possible.