The Veterans Affairs Department's multi-tiered plan prioritizes delivering COVID-19 inoculations to high-risk staff and patients.
The federal agency that will likely receive the largest distribution of COVID-19 vaccine doses plans to quickly inoculate some employees upon first receiving the vaccine, according to internal documents describing the phased rollout, but other workers could wait for some time before they're eligible to receive the vaccine.
Like all jurisdictions around the country awaiting vaccines against the novel coronavirus, the Veterans Affairs Department is planning a multi-tiered, phased approach to inoculate its workforce and constituents based on the availability of doses. Staff will comprise four of the first five populations to receive the vaccine, according to a predecisional, draft document obtained by Government Executive. Employees at department nursing homes and its 25 Spinal Cord Injuries and Disorders Centers would receive the first batch of vaccines, followed by veterans at those facilities.
VA is one of five federal agencies slated to receive a direct distribution of vaccines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention after viable candidates are approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration. The department, which runs the largest health care network in the country, has faced criticism for failing to publicize a detailed vaccine distribution plan, with Democratic senators last week imploring VA to develop a comprehensive strategy. VA has told employees it will only finalize its vaccine strategy after a candidate is approved for use.
After vaccinating its employees and patients at long-term care sites—more than 105,000 veterans receive long-term care through VA—the department under the draft plan would move, in successive order, to inoculate staff in emergency departments, COVID-19 intensive care units and COVID-19 non-intensive care units. Employees in “other congregate living settings” and veterans over the age of 85 would then receive vaccines from VA. The department has not yet set out timelines for each phase of its distribution plan, as it would depend on vaccine availability.