Representatives from the Utah Department of Military and Veterans Affairs are calling veterans across the state to inform them of their vaccine eligibility. They also have a specialized COVID hotline veterans can call with any coronavirus or vaccine related questions.
Jill Atwood is the director of communications for the state’s VA.
“If a veteran would like to call us and connect with that COVID hotline, they can absolutely speak with a live person,” Atwood said. “It will allow veterans to ask questions about the vaccine. So we have a nurse triage line on there. Ask questions about side effects, ask questions about COVID testing, but more to the point schedule an appointment for a COVID vaccine.”
VA representatives are especially concerned about making sure rural veterans get the vaccine. Atwood said they want to make sure people know the vaccine is safe and that even people who have had COVID need it.
Vaccines are available at the VA St. George, Idaho Falls and Pocatello clinics twice a week. There are alo special mass vaccination clinics happening on Saturdays in Price and Roosevelt, Utah and Elko, Nevada. Both the Moderna and Johnson and Johnson vaccines are available.
Atwood said the general response to vaccine availability has been positive and over 22,000 veterans have been vaccinated through the Salt Lake VA healthcare system. Atwood is excited by a current legislative proposal that would enable the VA to vaccinate any veteran.
“And that means any veteran regardless of if they're enrolled in VA health care or not, and their spouses,” Atwood said. “Now that hasn't happened yet. That is something to look forward to in the future. It has passed the Senate at this point.”
For more information, here is the VA system phone number with extension for the COVID hotline: 801 582 1565 ext. 5657.