The Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) has been following a phased plan based on Center for Disease Control (CDC) COVID-19 risk criteria for vaccinating eligible Veterans and caregivers. Under the phased approach, Veterans who receive care through the VA and designated primary/secondary family caregivers who are enrolled in the VA’s Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC) were the two eligible groups able to receive vaccinations through the VA.
On Wednesday, March 24th, a new measure signed into law by the President expands eligibility for who can receive the coronavirus vaccine through the VA to all Veterans, their spouses and caregivers. To prepare for the expansion of eligible individuals, VA officials indicate they will start running pilot programs at certain medical centers to work on distribution in anticipation of receiving millions of additional doses in the coming months. The Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs has indicated the measure will increase the number of eligible individuals for vaccines through the VA from around 9 million to more than 33 million individuals.
The new legislation passed by Congress and signed into law, expands the previous pool of Veterans who receive care and registered primary/secondary caregivers to additionally include:
- All Veterans living in the United States
- Veterans living overseas enrolled in the Foreign Medical program
- Those Veterans’ spouses
- Veteran caregivers enrolled in either the PCAFC or the program of General Caregiver Support Services
- Veteran caregivers enrolled in certain geriatrics and extended Care Programs, such as Veteran Directed Care and VA’s Medical Foster Home Program
- Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA) recipients
Since December 2020, the VA has vaccinated more than 1.5million individuals and receives around 200,000 doses a week. The pilot programs for the expanded population will begin in March/April and will hopefully help to provide guidance for the increase of communications, operations including space and staffing, registration and enrollment, scheduling, and document/data transmission.
For more information on COVID-19 and to sign up to stay informed about vaccine availability, please visit COVID-19 vaccines at VA | Veterans Affairs.