The Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System’s Biloxi VA Medical Center administered the organization’s 10,000th dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccination Feb. 13. The shot was given during the organization’s COVID-19 appointment-only vaccination clinic at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum in Biloxi, Mississippi.

Navy Veteran Camille Spencer received the vaccine during the day-long event, an effort Director Bryan C. Matthews said is the result of the organization’s employees, many of whom are Veterans themselves.

Pictured above, VA employee Sascha Kaletsch gives Spencer her COVID-19 vaccination pin.

“Our medical professionals, supply chain, and administrative personnel have been part of an outstanding effort to provide these much-needed vaccinations to our nation’s heroes. Being able to administer the 10,000th dose of this vaccine during what can only be described as a challenging logistical feat speaks to the continued efforts of our staff.”

Spencer received the vaccination during the vaccination clinic, including Biloxi, Mississippi, and Pensacola, Florida. So did more than 1,000 other Gulf Coast Veterans. Using the mass vaccination model used by numerous public health organizations, both the Biloxi and Pensacola facilities offered appointment-only COVID-19 vaccinations.

Maximizing efforts to minimize risk

Dr. M. Christopher Saslo is associate director for patient care services and a nurse executive. Saslo said: “This effort helps boost the number of vaccines being delivered to our Veteran population with the support of the VA Network Office and VA Central Office efforts.

“With more than 75,000 registered Veterans throughout the Gulf Coast, it is vital to maximizing these efforts in order to minimize risk to our Veterans at risk for exposure.”

The health care system has been administering doses of the vaccine since January 2021. It provides vaccinations to Veterans in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations and VA guidelines.

The guidelines include Veterans over the age of 65, Veterans with high-risk medical conditions determined by their Patient-Aligned Care Team (PACT) and Veterans who are essential workers.

Caregivers in Support Program included

Clinics also receive a monthly VA allotment for caregivers of Veterans enrolled in the Comprehensive Caregiver Support Program.

Matthews added that as more doses of the COVID-19 vaccine become available, other priority groups will be vaccinated.

“Like medical facilities across the nation, we’re currently receiving limited doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. We’re providing these to Veterans in the CDC-recommended priority groups.

“But as we receive more, we’ll begin vaccinating other Veterans living along the Gulf Coast and receiving care at our clinics in Pensacola, Eglin and Panama City Beach, Florida; Mobile, Alabama; and at the Biloxi VA Medical Center in Biloxi, Mississippi.”

The Biloxi VA Medical Center, Mobile Community-based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) and Pensacola, Eglin, and Panama City Beach CBOCS are part of the Gulf Coast Veterans Healthcare System. The system is headquartered in Biloxi, Mississippi, and provides a variety of medical outpatient services to more than 75,000 Veterans.

Bruce Cummins is a public affairs specialist for the Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System in Biloxi, MS.

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Published on Feb. 21, 2021

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