COVID-19 vaccine arrives at Dole VA - Robert J. Dole VA Medical Center
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Robert J. Dole VA Medical Center


COVID-19 vaccine arrives at Dole VA

Pharmacy staff of the Robert J. Dole VA Medical Center applaud the delivery of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

1,000 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine arrived at the Dole VA on December 23. Medical Center Director Candace Ifabiyi described it as "having hope delivered." Within hours of the vaccine's arrival, staff and Veterans at the Dole VA were being vaccinated.

By Jeff Herndon
Tuesday, December 29, 2020

The Robert J. Dole VA Medical Center received 1,000 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday, December 23. The vaccination of staff and Veterans began just a few hours later.

“We are eager to offer the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to our health care personnel and community living center residents,” said Candace Ifabiyi, Medical Center Director. “Receiving the vaccine is like having hope delivered. As vaccine supplies increase, our ultimate goal is to offer COVID-19 vaccination to all Veterans and employees who want to be vaccinated.”

The first vaccination was given to Mr. Bart Ridder, a registered nurse in the ICU who provided initial care for our first COVID-positive inpatient in March.

“Hopefully, this is one of the first steps towards getting back to a normal life,” Ridder said. When asked how he felt about being the first employee of the Dole VA to be vaccinated Ridder continued, “I’m glad. We’ve been exposed to COVID patients every day since this all started so I’m happy to be the first.”

We also vaccinated our first Veteran that afternoon. Mr. Bruce Watson, a 96-year old Veteran of World War II and the last World War II Veteran in the Dole VA’s community living center, said he felt deserving to be vaccinated against the deadly virus.

“There are many Veterans just as deserving to be the first, though,” Watson said. “I wish all the Veterans would receive the attention I’ve received [today].”

By the end of the day, we had vaccinated all Veterans in the community living center.

Dole VA was one of 113 VA Medical Centers across the country to receive the first limited supply of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine last week. Sites were identified based on need for the vaccine according to CDC’s 1A prioritization and capacity to store the vaccine at -20C. The vaccine is administered in two doses, 21 to 28 days apart. Those receiving the vaccine will have to return to the medical center during that timeframe.

As vaccines become available for more groups of Veterans, VA care teams will reach out to eligible Veterans to schedule vaccinations. There is no need to preregister or come to a facility to sign up.

Veterans can get up-to-date information on VA’s VA COVID-19 vaccine webpage, which launched on December 11, 2020, and sign up to receive regular updates on the vaccine on the VA’s Stay Informed page. More information can also be obtained through the VA’s COVID-19 hotline by dialing 1-800-myVA411 and select 8 from the menu for COVID information.


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