World War II vet at Phoenix VA gets Arizona’s first COVID-19 vaccine

Dec 15, 2020, 11:59 AM | Updated: 5:20 pm
A World War II veteran living at a Phoenix VA facility became the first Arizonan to receive the COV...
A World War II veteran living at a Phoenix VA facility became the first Arizonan to receive the COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020. (Phoenix VA Photo)
(Phoenix VA Photo)

PHOENIX – A World War II veteran living at a Phoenix VA facility on Tuesday became the first known Arizonan to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, authorities said.

Phoenix VA Health Care System staff members also received the shots.

Last week, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announced that 37 of its medical centers, including the one in Phoenix, were selected to receive the first Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccines.

The sites were chosen because they have the capacity to store the doses at the required low temperatures and administer a large number of the shots.

“After many months of tireless efforts, we are thrilled the vaccine is here and honored to be one of the first VA sites to administer it,” Dr. Alyshia Smith, director of the Phoenix VA medical center, said Tuesday in a press release.

Per the Department of Veterans Affairs vaccine distribution plan, which was published Monday, the VA’s first doses are earmarked for front-line health care workers and veterans living in long-term care units.

The VA’s COVID-19 web page has additional information for veterans about the vaccine program.

“VA is well prepared and positioned to begin COVID-19 vaccinations,” VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said Thursday in a press release.

“Our ultimate goal is to offer it to all veterans and employees who want to be vaccinated.”

The first VA vaccine was given Monday to a 96-year-old World War II veteran at the Bedford, Massachusetts, facility.

The county health departments in Phoenix and Tucson received their first delivery of vaccines on Monday and planned to start giving the shots on Thursday.

In the first week, Maricopa County was expected to receive 47,000 doses and Pima County around 11,000 doses.

They will be given to health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities.

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World War II vet at Phoenix VA gets Arizona’s first COVID-19 vaccine