Vaccinations against COVID-19 have become that much easier for veterans to receive following the passage of The SAVES LIVES Act. The law, first introduced on February 24, swiftly passed through Congress, and was signed into law on March 24 by President Joe Biden, was written as a way to increase vaccination outreach through VA. Now, veterans of any age, with a discharge or separation other than dishonorable, along with their spouses, caregivers, and beneficiaries of veterans who have died or have a total disability, are eligible to receive vaccinations through VA.
This is not to say that VA hasn’t already been working to deliver vaccinations since they first became available. As of Mid-March, VA has delivered an estimated 1.4 million doses of the vaccine so far. VA has been giving vaccines to veterans enrolled in VA healthcare, which numbers about 6 million, and makes use of extra doses by enrolling eligible veterans and vaccinating them on the spot, according to VA Undersecretary of Health Dr. Richard Stone.
Vaccines for All, But Priority Given to VA Healthcare-Enrolled Vets
The SAVES LIVES Act opens up vaccinations to all veterans, regardless of whether they are enrolled in VA healthcare or not, along with spouses and caregivers, many of whom, according to reports, was frustrated not to be vaccinated when their veteran spouses were. Priority is still being given to veterans enrolled in VA healthcare, however, and vaccine supplies will determine if and when other veterans are able to get vaccinated, too.
Sign Up to be Notified of Available Vaccines
You can sign up for vaccination on the VA website, where you are instructed to wait for VA to contact you when a dose is ready for you. This is due to the limited supply of doses available at the present time, and VA is still working to get vaccines through to those who meet the CDC COVID-19 risk criteria. If you already receive healthcare through VA, you can expect to be contacted regarding vaccination. If you do not receive VA healthcare and do not sign up for a vaccine, VA will not reach out to you, so it is incumbent upon you to sign up online or contact VA to share your plans to get the vaccine when it becomes available to you.
And although VA has opened up its vaccination efforts to all veterans, it still encourages you to seek the vaccine elsewhere if you are able to get it earlier. You are advised to reach out to your healthcare provider, employer, pharmacy, or local public health officials to see if the vaccine is available and you are eligible to receive it.
Assistance with Signup
VA makes it clear that it may contact you via phone, email, or text, and that your appointment arrangements may vary based on your location. It also recommends contacting VA with any questions or concerns at the MyVA411 main information line, 800-698-2411 (TTY: 711).