Overton Brooks and other VA Medical Centers to begin COVID-19 vaccines this week

Louisiana Network

WASHINGTON D.C. (KTAL/KMSS) – The Overton Brooks VA Medical Center will begin COVID-19 vaccinations this week using the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

On Friday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an Emergency Use Authorization of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, which is the second COVID-19 vaccine to be authorized.

The Pfizer vaccine received emergency use authorization on Dec. 11, and on Dec. 14 vaccinations began throughout the country and in some Veterans Administration sites based on need according to CDC’s 1a prioritization, after confirming they could appropriately store the vaccine at 2-8 degrees Celsius (35.6-46.4 Fahrenheit) for three-to-five days.

Since the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine remains stable in regular refrigeration, VA expects to distribute it to more facilities when supplies are available. The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine was 94 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 disease based on scientific data presented at FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biologics Advisory Committee on Dec. 17.

Like the Pfizer vaccine, the Moderna vaccine is administered in two doses, 28 days apart. The side effects appear similar to those of other vaccines and are short-lived.

In addition to Overton Brooks in Louisiana, the Alexandria (Pineville) Louisiana VA Medical Center will begin COVID-19 injections this week.

In Arkansas, vaccinations will begin at Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks in Fayetteville, and Central Arkansas Veterans Health Care System in North Little Rock, while in Texas, the vaccine will be administered at Amarillo VA Health Care System; the West Texas VA Health Care System in Big Spring; Central Texas VA Health Care System in Temple; Texas Valley Coastal VA Health Care System in Harlingen; and the El Paso Health Care.

“Having a second COVID-19 vaccine will enable us to reach more facilities and vaccinate more health care personnel and Veterans in additional parts of the country,” said VA Secretary Robert L. Wilkie.

“We continue to implement our COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Plan and are grateful to be one step closer to seeing the end of this pandemic,” Wilkie said.   

Sites were identified based on need for the vaccine according to CDC’s 1a prioritization after confirming they could appropriately store the vaccine at -20?C. Since the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine remains stable in regular refrigeration, VA expects to distribute it to more facilities when supplies are available.

The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine was 94 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 disease based on scientific data presented at FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biologics Advisory Committee on Dec. 17. The vaccine is administered in two doses, 28 days apart. The side effects appear similar to those of other vaccines and are short-lived.

On Dec. 14, 37 Veterans Administration Medical Centers began offering the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to eligible health care personnel and Veterans.

Per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations, the VA will continue to vaccinate health care personnel, as well as community living centers and spinal cord unit residents.

As vaccine supplies increase, the Veterans Administration’s ultimate goal is to offer COVID-19 vaccinations to all Veterans and employees who want to be vaccinated.

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