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VA vaccinates more than 600 veterans

HUNTINGTON, WEST VIRGINIA — More than 600 veterans from around the Tri-State received the COVID-19 vaccination from the Hershel “Woody” Williams VAMC in Huntington over the weekend.

The facility achieved achieved a massive goal by contacting, scheduling appointments and providing the Moderna vaccine to those who arrived.

On Friday, 500 extra doses became available within the Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN), of which the VA medical center is a part.

“Our staff went to work immediately,” Brian Nimmo, medical center director, said. “They called veterans to get them scheduled, got staff coverage lined up, covered other areas of the medical center, etc. It was a very big event that needed a lot of flexibility, coordination and determination in a short amount of time.”

Dr. Chris Waugh, Chief of Pharmacy Service at the medical center, said, “Our staff pulled together and worked very diligently to ensure the available appointments were lined up and the veterans received instructions of when and where to receive their vaccine.”

“The nursing, business office, pharmacy and various other personnel demonstrated true teamwork and dedication to providing the timely care to our veterans through our COVID-19 vaccine program,” she said.

On Saturday, the VAMC vaccine team administered 308 vaccine shots, while on Sunday, 330 vaccines were given. The process includes check-in, patient education, getting the shot and a 20-minute observation minimum.

There are only 20 physically distanced chairs for observation after receiving the shot, so scheduling the veterans safely is a priority.

“We are proud of this herculean accomplishment,” Nimmo said. “I just want to thank everyone that has been involved with the vaccination effort at our medical center and give a special mention for the hard work this weekend.”

The result is that over the weekend, and less than 48 hours from when the vaccination was received Friday evening, “Team Woody” vaccinated 638.

A small amount were second doses which had already been scheduled.

Nimmo summed up the weekend mission stating, “This is an incredible accomplishment. Proud does not adequately express how I feel about our team. It is just amazing work accomplished by our VA care team. I’m proud to be a part of it.”

Since giving the first vaccine shot to 97-year-old, WWII Veteran and Medal of Honor recipient Hershel “Woody” Williams and staff on Dec. 22, 2020, HWW VAMC’s vaccine team has given over 3,400 shots of first doses and nearly 200 second doses.

Hershel “Woody” Williams VA Medical Center will contact veterans to be scheduled as this phased approach progresses.

An informational recording is available at 304-429-6741, ext. 4636 (INFO). For the past few weeks, Team Woody has been contacting high risk veterans to schedule vaccination.

Veterans over 75 years old, or those who receive chemotherapy or dialysis, or are a transplant patient and have not yet been scheduled, are asked to call 1-800-827-8244 or 304-429-6755, extension 3114 to schedule an appointment.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Huntington, West Virginia serves 10 counties in West Virginia, two counties in southern Ohio and 12 counties in eastern Kentucky.