January 26, 2021

Frustrated with Slow Vaccine Rollout in Massachusetts, Moulton Encourages Veterans to Enroll at the VA

SALEM, Mass. – Today, Rep. Seth Moulton encouraged all veterans, and especially veterans 75 and older, who are not already patients of the VA to consider enrolling in the VA healthcare system in order to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. The federal Veterans Affairs health care system is immunizing veterans independently from the state. 

“The coronavirus vaccine is the most precious commodity on the planet, but it is useless unless it is in people’s arms. Too many doses in our state are sitting in freezers,” Moulton said. “We’ve got to get as many people as possible vaccinated as quickly as possible. Let’s get creative: medical vans with the vaccine should be available in underserved communities 24/7; veterans should enroll with the VA; and Primary Care Providers should receive doses for patients who qualify.” 

As of Sunday, according to reporting in WBUR, Massachusetts has vaccinated just 5.2 percent of its population and administered 49 percent of its shots. That lags behind 42 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. 

Last week, Rep. Moulton pressed the state on the rollout’s pace. In an interview with WBZ, Moulton said:“Clearly it’s not going fast enough. We have to work with the Baker administration to make sure it improves, it gets better, and that we vaccinate as many people as possible as quickly as possible.”

Moulton’s outreach team has recently helped veterans enroll at the VA so that they are eligible for the VA’s vaccine distribution efforts. The VA hospital in Bedford, in Moulton’s Congressional District, has been a national leader in delivering the vaccine since December, when a 96-year-old veteran of World War II became one of the first people in the country to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

As of last week, the VA Bedford Health Care System has administered more than 4,600 vaccinations to veterans and its employees. The system is currently running a vaccine clinic 12-hours a day, seven days a week. More than 500 of the system’s Community Living Center’s residents already have had their second doses.

The VA system is only offering the vaccine to eligible people who are enrolled in the VA. Veterans can learn more about enrollment and determine their eligibility here. More information about the VA’s vaccination program is available here.

 While the VA’s rollout has been widely successful, it hasn’t been flawless. Last week, a cleaning crew accidentally unplugged a freezer at the VA in Jamaica Plain, spoiling nearly 2,000 vaccine doses. While the incident is inexcusable, Moulton was encouraged by the regional VA leadership’s prompt disclosure of the problem, the Inspector General’s visit to the facility after the incident, and assurances from the VA that the spoiled doses will not slow the pace of the vaccine’s administration to VA patients.