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World War II veteran Lee Elm Creel, 94, of Snow Town, Alabama gets his vaccine from Precious Reynolds, an RN at the Birmingham VA Medical Center in Alabam
World War II veteran Lee Elm Creel, 94, of Snow Town, Alabama gets his vaccine from Precious Reynolds, an RN at the Birmingham VA Medical Center in Alabam (Joe Songer/al.com)

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WASHINGTON — Veterans and health care workers will receive coronavirus vaccines this week at 128 more Department of Veterans Affairs facilities across the country.

The department is readying doses of the Moderna vaccine, which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized Friday for emergency use. Richard Stone, executive in charge of the Veterans Health Administration, said the VA had ordered 122,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine ahead of its approval and prepared 200 sites to dispense it. The first 113 sites will start this week, the department announced Monday.

“Having a second COVID-19 vaccine will enable us to reach more facilities and vaccinate more health care personnel and veterans in additional parts of the country,” VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said in a statement.

The VA also announced that 15 more sites will receive doses of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine, in addition to the 37 medical centers that began administering it last week.

The VA administered its first doses of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine Dec. 13. The 37 hospitals are mostly in areas with high veteran populations, such as Washington, Dallas and Cleveland. Sites were chosen based on their ability to vaccinate large numbers of people, and most importantly, to store vaccines in extremely cold temperatures. The Pfizer vaccine must be frozen at 94 degrees below zero, a challenge for many hospitals across the country.

Of the 15 sites that will start administering the Pfizer vaccine this week, seven are in Florida.

The 113 sites chosen as the first sites to administer the Moderna vaccine include hospitals and community-based outpatient clinics across 47 states. The sites were chosen based on need, the VA said. All locations can store the vaccine at 4 degrees below zero — a much less stringent requirement, Stone said.

The department released its final plan last week detailing the order in which veterans and staff would receive a vaccine. The VA is undertaking a plan to distribute vaccines to more than 418,000 employees and any of the 10 million enrolled patients who want one. Stone predicted about 7 million veterans would want the vaccine.

As vaccines become more widely available, the department plans to reach out to eligible veterans and schedule their vaccinations.

Residents and staff of the VA’s long-term community living centers, as well as spinal cord injury centers, are among the first to be vaccinated. After the first vaccines are distributed, the VA will shift its focus to vaccinating VA employees who treat coronavirus patients. This includes emergency department staff and health care workers in coronavirus intensive care units.

After those phases of distribution, the VA will vaccinate veterans and staff living in other nursing facilities that don’t yet have access to vaccines.

Once it’s done with nursing homes, the VA plans to vaccinate health care workers who aren’t in coronavirus units, as well as other hospital employees, such as police, food services workers and administrative staff. All other VA essential workers, as well as homeless veterans, patients on dialysis, organ transplant patients and veterans undergoing chemotherapy are next on the list.

After that, the VA will start vaccinating patients based on their age, with those 85 and older going first. Veterans ages 50 and younger will be the last to receive a vaccine. During this phase of vaccinations, the VA plans to prioritize veterans who have high-risk conditions, such as cancer, obesity, diabetes or heart disease. Black, Hispanic and Native American veterans will also be prioritized. According to VA data, minority veterans are disproportionately affected by the virus.

The vaccines are becoming more available during a time of record-breaking cases and deaths nationwide.

However, the current coronavirus cases and deaths among VA patients was unknown Monday. A website where the department typically publicizes its data was undergoing maintenance and hasn’t been updated since Dec. 11. The agency did not respond to a request for updated data.

On Dec. 11, 17,757 VA patients were sick with the virus and 5,542 have died of it. Ninety VA employees have died.

wentling.nikki@stripes.com Twitter: @nikkiwentling

Sites administering the Moderna vaccineAlabama

Central Alabama (Montgomery) VA Health Care System

Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center

Alaska

Alaska (Anchorage) VA Health Care System

Arizona

Northern Arizona (Prescott) VA Health Care System

Southern Arizona (Tucson) VA Health Care System

Arkansas

Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks (Fayetteville)

Central Arkansas (North Little Rock) Veterans Health Care System

California

Central California (Fresno) VA Health Care System

Northern California (Mather) VA Health Care System

San Francisco VA Medical Center

Long Beach VA Health Care System

Loma Linda VA Health Care System

San Diego VA Health Care System

Colorado

Grand Junction VA Medical Center

Delaware

Wilmington VA Medical Center

Florida

Lee County VA Health Care Center

Jacksonville VA Outpatient Clinic

Sergeant Ernest I. “Boots” Thomas (Tallahassee) VA Outpatient Clinic

The Villages VA Outpatient Clinic

New Port Richey VA Outpatient Clinic

William V. Chappell, Jr. (Daytona Beach) VA Outpatient Clinic

William “Bill” Kling (Sunrise) VA Outpatient Clinic

South Hillsborough (Riverview) VA Outpatient Clinic

Viera VA Outpatient Clinic

Georgia

Atlanta VA Medical Center

Carl Vinson (Dublin) VA Medical Center

Hawaii

Pacific Islands (Honolulu) VA Health Care System

Idaho

Boise VA Medical Center

Illinois

Capt. James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center (North Chicago)

Jesse Brown (Chicago) VA Medical Center

Iliana (Danville) VA Health Care System

Marion VA Medical Center

Indiana

Indianapolis VA Medical Center

Marion VA Medical Center

Iowa

Central Iowa (Des Moines) VA Health Care System

Iowa City VA Health Care System

Kansas

Dwight D. Eisenhower (Leavenworth) VA Medical Center

Colmery-O’Neil (Topeka) VA Medical Center

Robert J. Dole (Wichita) VA Medical Center

Kentucky

Louisville VA Medical Center

Louisiana

Alexandria (Pineville) VA Medical Center

Overton Brooks (Shreveport) VA Medical Center

Maine

Maine (Augusta) VA Health Care System

Massachusetts

Boston (Jamaica Plain) VA Health Care System

Northampton (Leeds) VA Medical Center

Michigan

Battle Creek VA Medical Center

Detroit VA Medical Center

Saginaw VA Medical Center

Iron Mountain VA Medical Center

Minnesota

St. Cloud VA Medical Center

Mississippi

G.V. (Sonny) Montgomery (Jackson) VA Medical Center

Gulf Coast (Biloxi) VA Health Care System

Missouri

Poplar Bluff VA Medical Center

Kansas City VA Medical Center

Montana

Montana (Fort Harrison) VA Health Care System

Nevada

Sierra Nevada (Reno) VA Health Care System

New Hampshire

Manchester VA Medical Center

New Jersey

Lyons VA Medical Center

New York

James J. Peters Bronx VA Medical Center

Canandaigua VA Medical Center

Syracuse VA Medical Center

Albany VA Medical Center

Castle Point (Wappingers Falls) VA Medical Center

Northport VA Medical Center

North Carolina

Asheville VA Medical Center

South Charlotte VA Health Care Center

Fayetteville VA Medical Center

Raeford Road (Fayetteville) VA Outpatient Clinic

Greenville VA Health Care Center

Kernersville VA Health Care Center

Wilmington VA Health Care Center

North Dakota

Fargo VA Medical Center

Ohio

Chillicothe VA Medical Center

Cincinnati VA Medical Center

Dayton VA Medical Center

Columbus VA Ambulatory Care Center

Oklahoma

Eastern Oklahoma (Muskogee) VA Health Care System

Oregon

Roseburg VA Health Care System

Southern Oregon Rehabilitation Center & Clinics (White City)

Pennsylvania

Altoona VA Medical Center

Butler VA Medical Center

Coatesville VA Medical Center

Erie VA Medical Center

Lebanon VA Medical Center

Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center

Puerto Rico

Mayaguez VA Outpatient Clinic

Euripides Rubio (Ponce) VA Outpatient Clinic

Rhode Island

Providence VA Medical Center

South Carolina

Charleston VA Medical Center

Columbia VA Medical Center

South Dakota

Sioux Falls VA Medical Center

Black Hills (Fort Meade) VA Health Care System

Tennessee

Tennessee Valley (Murfreesboro) VA Health Care System

Mountain Home VA Health Care System

Texas

Amarillo (West Amarillo) VA Health Care System

West Texas (Big Spring) VA Health Care System

Central Texas (Temple) VA Health Care System

Texas Valley Coastal (Harlingen) VA Health Care System

El Paso VA Health Care System

Utah

Salt Lake City VA Health Care System

Vermont

White River Junction VA Medical Center

Virginia

Hampton VA Medical Center

Salem VA Medical Center

Washington

Spokane VA Medical Center

Walla Walla VA Medical Center

West Virginia

Beckley VA Medical Center

Clarksburg VA Medical Center

Huntington VA Medical Center

Martinsburg VA Medical Center

Wisconsin

Madison VA Hospital

Tomah VA Medical Center

Wyoming

Cheyenne VA Medical Center

Sheridan VA Medical Center

New sites administering the Pfizer vaccine:

California

Palo Alto (Livermore) VA Medical Center

Palo Alto (Menlo Park) VA Medical Center

Florida

Bay Pines VA Health Care System

Miami VA Health Care System

West Palm Beach VA Health Care System

James A. Haley (Tampa) Veterans Hospital

North Florida/South Georgia (Gainesville) Health Care System

Lake Baldwin (Orlando) VA Outpatient Clinic

Lake City VA Medical Center

Maryland

Perry Point VA Medical Center

Missouri

St. Louis (Jefferson Barracks) VA Health Care System

New York

New York Harbor (Brooklyn campus) Health Care System

North Carolina

Salisbury VA Medical Center

Texas

Kerrville VA Hospital

Washington

American Lake (Tacoma) VA Medical Center

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