COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - As vaccine rollouts around the state face hurdle after hurdle, over at the Columbia VA Healthcare System, veterans say they’re being taken care of.
“I called the VA and set up the appointment the same day,” said US Army veteran, James Hill. “It was very easy.”
Hill says getting his COVID-19 vaccine is just another way to serve and protect.
David Omura, CEO of the Columbia VA Healthcare System, says they’ve worked hard to get vaccines into arms and they want to keep expanding that.
“We’ve now vaccinated right around 5,000 people, so we’re excited about that, and we’re looking forward to this upcoming Monday,” he said. “Vaccinating another 1,500 people with our great partnership with the University of South Carolina.”
On Monday, the VA will host a vaccination site at Colonial Life Arena from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. for any veterans age 65 and older who want a COVID-19 vaccine.
“This will give us an opportunity to have a big enough venue where we can get at least a good 1,500 veterans vaccinated,” Omura said. “Typically, week to week, we get a certain allocation. In the past, it was 600. Then, it went up to 1,000 and we were told for this week, we could be given 3,500, a one-time dose, if we could get those out to the community.”
So, how has the Columbia VA been able to have such a successful vaccine rollout? Omura says a lot of it comes down to hard work and having a plan.
“Every single veteran that comes through here is scheduled,” Omura said. “That’s very important to us because we want to make sure they’re not only scheduled for their first appointment, but they’re guaranteed for their second appointment 28 days later. So that’s been very helpful. We have not had any of our vaccine go to waste.”
Veterans like Hill said when you’re in the military, the sense of service and duty doesn’t really ever leave you. He says getting the vaccine is just another way of looking out for all of us.
“Once you’ve been in, it stays there,” Hill said. “It’s another way of protecting yourself, and your country.”
If you are a veteran age 65 and older who wants to set up an appointment to get your vaccine, the mass vaccination clinic for vets will be held at Colonial Life Arena on Monday, Feb. 15 from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The clinic is by appointment only, and if you are currently enrolled in the Columbia VA System, you just need to call 803-776-4000, press the number 1, and then dial CURE (2873) to get it scheduled. Hotline hours are from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.
If you need to be enrolled first, dial 1-803-776-4000, and press 5.
Parking for those getting vaccinated will be located in the three main parking lots directly in front of Colonial Life Arena at the intersection of Lincoln and Devine streets.