Coronavirus

As of Wednesday, the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System had vaccinated about 1,900 people, a Veterans Affairs spokesman said.

Central Texas Veterans Health Care System first began its distribution of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 22, and Deborah Meyer, a Central Texas Veterans Health Care System spokeswoman, told the Telegram that about 70 people had received the vaccine that day.

The health care system announced that Joe Poe, a U.S. Army veteran, was its first patient to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. His vaccination was administered at the Olin E. Teague Veterans’ Medical Center Community Living Center on Dec. 22.

But vaccinations have ramped up in the days since Poe’s immunization, and an emphasis reportedly was placed on veterans aged 85 years and older.

“Large-scale vaccination is the key to ending the disruption of the COVID-19 virus,” Medical Center Director Michael L. Kiefer said. “We have several thousands of doses for veterans 85 years and older. However, if unused, we will expand to younger veterans.”

In a December news release, Kiefer said the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System is particularly eager to offer the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to health care personnel and community living centers.

“Receiving the vaccine is like having hope delivered,” Kiefer said. “As vaccine supplies increase, our ultimate goal is to offer COVID-19 vaccination to all veterans and staff who want to be vaccinated.”

Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine — registering a 94 percent effective rate during clinical trials — is a two-step vaccination with each dose being administered about 28 days apart. The second dose is reportedly necessary to both “ignite the immune system and develop one’s own antibodies to become immune.”

Patrick Swindle, chief executive officer at Seton Medical Center in Harker Heights, previously detailed to Bell County residents how hospital systems are actively strategizing to avoid potential waste with Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine.

“Once you open a vial, you have to use it,” Swindle said in late December. “For Moderna’s (vaccine), it’s 10 doses in one vial … so we have to make sure that we have 10 people ready to get that vaccine. If not, you can waste vaccines, and by golly, we’re not going to waste anything.”

Kiefer has repeatedly stated that it’s the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System’s desire to vaccinate as many individuals as its vaccine inventory allows.