During the first 90 days of 2021, Tennessee Valley Healthcare System has vaccinated more than 37,000 Veterans with COVID-19 vaccines.
There are 139 VA health care systems offering COVID-19 vaccines, and TVHS ranks in the top 25 percent for most vaccines distributed. In the state of Tennessee, TVHS is the leader among other VA hospitals.
“It has been absolutely thrilling to see how many Veterans we’ve been able to vaccinate,” Dr. Richa Misra, TVHS COVID-19 vaccine coordinator said. “Our team has been incredible. I remember December 23 was the first day we received our Moderna shipment, and we started vaccinating pretty much that day.”
Over those past 90 days, TVHS has averaged 401 vaccines administered each day. Misra explained the success behind the numbers comes from hosting multiple walk-in vaccine clinics, transporting vaccines to rural TVHS clinics and going into homeless Veteran communities.
“We span the state of Tennessee from Chattanooga to Clarksville and into Kentucky in Hopkinsville and Bowling Green,” Misra said. “We’ve been able to have some mobile vaccination teams go out to our homeless Veterans who maybe don’t have the transportation means to come to us. We have offered mass vaccination clinics over the weekend. The Army National Guard has been very generous with their staff and helped us to vaccinate over the weekends.”
At its first COVID-19 walk-in vaccine clinic, the health care system provided more than 1,400 vaccines.
Navy Veteran Kevin Smith received his second Moderna vaccine at the Alvin C. York campus walk-in clinic.
“Having a 91-year-old mother and a 92-year old mother-in-law that’s in assisted living, they just can’t take chances of them getting sick,” Smith said. “It [the vaccine] makes it a lot more comfortable. The last thing you’d want to do is have them get sick because of my neglection, you know.”
Looking ahead, Misra and her team are excited to provide more COVID-19 vaccines to Veterans.
“The goal is to offer more vaccines at more sites, more often,” Misra said. “We really see this vaccine as a way forward for us in the community. We hope that more Veterans will want to get vaccinated, and we’re here to do that.”