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MILITARY MATTERS: Thousands of veterans getting COVID-19 vaccinations at new S.C. clinic

Updated: Feb. 4, 2021 at 11:46 PM EST
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NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WTVM) - Thousands of military veterans are getting vaccinated against the coronavirus, thanks to the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center opening its new clinic ahead of schedule in South Carolina.

Harold Heidelbach is an army veteran who never once thought about not getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

“Well, I feel everybody eventually should get vaccinated,” Heidelbach said.

He’s one of the vets that just got vaccinated at a new outpatient clinic in North Charleston, South Carolina, which opened early for COVID-19 vaccines.

“If you have been to our downtown campus, you realize we’re pretty tight. We really wanted to make full use of the space we had and a lot of our veterans live in this direction,” said Scott Isaacs, CEO of Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center.

To accommodate nearly 1,000 shots a day, the VA is taking a military approach with batch vaccinations. Between 20 and 25 veterans at a time are seated in one of three vaccination areas where a doctor explains the process. Then the vaccine is administered.

“We have plenty of ties with our DOD and if you have ever been through one of those facilities, you might see some similarities. If we do it in that way, we can move more people through in a timely fashion because it’s our goal to vaccinate as many people as we possibly can. I would give them four out of five stars. It wasn’t perfect, but they just started today. So, I think they did well,” said Dr. Robert Glass, VAMC’s acting chief of primary care.

The goal is to administer 5,000 vaccines per week there.

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