MARTINSBURG, W. Va. (WDVM) — The Martinsburg Veteran’s Affairs Medical Center is providing free COVID-19 vaccines to eligible veterans in West Virginia.
Dr. Michael Zapor is a retired Army colonel and an infectious diseases physician at the VA Medical Center. He is also the Deputy Chief of Staff at the medical center and has been spearheading the vaccination clinics. He explained that interested staff at the medical center have already been vaccinated as well as veterans living in the domiciliary or long-term congregate living and care facility.
He explained that the VA Medical Center has been reaching out to veterans and even their beneficiaries over the last week to schedule vaccination appointments. He also emphasized that there are over 33,000 veterans who are eligible to receive care at the medical center. He encourages all veterans to come and get their COVID vaccine.
“We have been receiving a steady supply of the Moderna vaccine and we have been scheduling veterans to get their vaccine,” Dr. Zapor explained. “We recognize that the vaccine’s not doing anybody any good by sitting in the freezer. We wanna get it in people’s arms.”
Former Army Specialist Emma Lardner and her boyfriend rolled up their sleeves on Sunday for their parents who don’t have access to the vaccine yet.
“Unfortunately, they aren’t veterans. They don’t get to come to the VA for this and they have to wait,” Lardner stated. “And it’s important to us because we wanna be able to see them again. We wanna be able to spend that family time.”
Lardner also emphasized, “The importance of being vaccinated is so much more than a sore arm for a few days because we gotta look out for others.” She also laughed while explaining that the walk from the entrance of the medical center to the clinic location took longer than receiving the vaccine.
Former Army Sergeant Don “Nerve” Caniford also had other people on his mind when he received his first dose.
“I’m around not a lot of people but older people too, a little older than me. And just it watches out for everybody not just myself,” Caniford stated. “What’s the point in wasting medical people’s time if you’re not going to do what they tell you to do? It seems like the thing to do.”
Dr. Zapor also has a message for those who are hesitant on getting the vaccine.
“When I’m not down here supervising this, I’m in the hospital taking of patients in the ICU with COVID and I assure you, you would rather be here getting this vaccine than up in the ICU with COVID.”
The Martinsburg VA Medical Center will also be holding walk-in vaccine clinics from Monday, January 25th through Thursday, January 28th from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Veterans 65 and older or Veterans who are essential personnel as defined by the CDC will be eligible to receive the vaccine. Veterans will need to arrive by 3 p.m. to check-in for the vaccine in the main lobby. Veterans must be eligible or enrolled in Veteran’s Affairs health care.
If you are unsure as to whether you have this coverage or if you qualify, please visit the Martinsburg VA Medical Center and they will assist you.