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Syracuse VA vaccinates 6,000 veterans in 14 counties

Syracuse VA Medical Center Facebook

The Syracuse VA Medical Center is working on getting coronavirus vaccines to veterans in a 14-county area stretching from the North Country to the Southern Tier.

More than 6,000 eligible and enrolled veterans have already started the vaccination process; either at the Syracuse hospital, or clinics in Rome, Binghamton and Watertown. Syracuse VA Medical Center Director Frank Pearson said the VA has been expanding clinics since it started vaccinating vets against COVID-19.

"We have had a massive campaign reaching out, calling all veterans in those areas, using an age and risk-stratified screening protocol that's been developed by the CDC, in concert with the VA, and reaching out to our veterans in those areas systematically," Pearson said.

The VA has not had a shortage of the vaccine, an issue facing the state and others. Some vets have found it easier to get appointments for vaccinations through the VA.

"By and large, the veterans are coming through and saying this is much easier, a much simpler process and very well organized," Pearson said.

The most recent outreach has been in the North Country, with another Watertown clinic scheduled for this weekend. Pearson said only vets who are enrolled with the VA can get appointments; noting this is a good reason for vets to sign up to get their health care through the VA system.

“We have found it as an opportunity, and nationally they’ve found an opportunity for veterans to enroll,” Pearson said. “Interestingly, some numbers have been increasing of veteran enrollment through this process.” 

If a vet isn’t enrolled in the system, they can do it online, or by calling the Medical Center at 315-425-4488. Appointments can be made from 8 a.m. -4 p.m. seven days a week.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.