Oklahoma City VA Health Care System
COVID-19 Vaccination Update
COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Plan
At the OKC VA Medical Center, we have received a limited supply of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine. Pfizer-BioNTech is a vaccine injection given in a 2-dose series separated by 21 days. A reminder card will be given after the first dose. We are following the VA COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Plan to ensure a safe, evidence-based and equity-focused vaccine rollout for VA frontline workers and Veterans.
Contacting Veterans for vaccine appointments
The Oklahoma City VA Health Care System is now notifying and scheduling Veterans for the COVID-19 Vaccine. Per CDC guidance, high-risk Veterans will be contacted first. VA’s ultimate goal is to offer the vaccine to all Veterans and employees who want to be vaccinated. High-risk Veterans are identified as 75 or older and/or having a medical condition that may put you at risk for getting the coronavirus based on VA and CDC risk criteria. It is important to understand that many Veterans will not be able to get the vaccine during this initial rollout. To reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19, Veterans should not come into a VA facility looking to receive a vaccine. Care teams will contact Veterans when a vaccine is available, based on their personal risk factors and vaccine availability.
If you meet the high-risk criteria mentioned above, your VA health care team will contact you to schedule an appointment to receive the vaccine or you can call 405-456-7119 and press option 2.
To help us better prepare, Veterans are also encouraged to visit the national VA “Keep Me Informed” website and indicate if you want to receive the vaccine: https://www.va.gov/health-care/covid-19-vaccine/stay-informed
Frequently Asked Questions
- What COVID-19 Vaccines does the VA have authorization to administer? The FDA has given emergency use authorization on two vaccines for COVID-19: Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. At the OKC VA Medical Center, we have received a limited supply of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine.
- How many doses of a COVID-19 vaccine will I need to take? Will I need a booster dose? The number of doses of a COVID-19 vaccine varies by vaccine maker. The first two COVID-19 vaccines that FDA and CDC will review require two doses given 21-28 days apart. Pfizer-BioNTech is a vaccine injection given in a 2-dose series separated by 21 days. A reminder card will be given after the first dose.
- When can I get the Vaccine? We are following the VA COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Plan, to ensure a safe, evidence-based and equity-focused vaccine rollout for VA frontline workers and Veterans. This first round of vaccine has gone to the most vulnerable Veterans in our long-term care and rehabilitation settings, as well as essential front-line Medical staff, based on CDC guidance. We will offer ALL enrolled Veterans the vaccine once we receive enough to do so, with the next priority group being Veterans age 75 and older or who are at high risk of severe illness. If your care team determines that you are eligible to receive the vaccine, you will be contacted directly by phone/mail/email when vaccine is available. Please note that as the supply of vaccine increases, we will be working with our care teams to let Veterans, who are not considered high-risk, know their options.
- Do I need to pre-register to get the vaccine? No. Veterans do not have to pre-register to receive the vaccine. Once more vaccine becomes available, staff will reach out to high-risk Veterans to discuss the vaccine, ask about their interest in receiving the vaccine and let Veterans how they can schedule an appointment to be vaccinated, if desired.
- Can my family get the vaccine too? Right now we are only offering the vaccine to enrolled Veterans.
- As the FDA has authorized more than one COVID-19 vaccine, will I be able to choose which one I receive? Most likely, no. In the early distribution phase, VA facilities will either get the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine due to the storage limitations of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. A the OKC VA we are only administering the Pfizer vaccine.
- Will the vaccine be available in VA clinics closer to where I live or will I have to a VA Medical Center to get it when it’s my turn? At the current time, CBOCs are unable to administer the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine as it requires the ultra-cold storage.
- Is it possible to get COVID-19 from the vaccine? No. Currently authorized COVID-19 vaccine, as well as those in development, use inactivated virus, pieces of the virus, or a gene from the virus. None of these can cause COVID-19.
- What are the potential side effects of the COVID-Vaccine? Sometimes after vaccination, the process of building immunity can cause symptoms, such as fever and other flu-like symptoms. These symptoms are normal and are a sign that the body is building immunity. Long term side effects are not known because the vaccine is still so new, but there will be ongoing monitoring for side effects for those who receive the vaccine.
- Will VA monitor COVID-19 vaccination reactions? Yes. VA clinicians will be closely monitoring Veterans for reactions or adverse events. An adverse event is an injury or harm to an individual after receiving the vaccine, which may or may not have been caused by the vaccine. VA will provide additional information to VA medical centers when the vaccine(s) is available. Information will include recommendations from the clinical trials about expected or observed adverse events. To accurately evaluate the vaccine’s safety, it will be critical for VA, CDC, and FDA to adequately document and report these adverse events.
- How long will my COVID-19 vaccine immunity last after vaccination? We won’t know how long immunity lasts until we have an authorized vaccine and more data on how well it works. Please visit the CDC COVID-19 Vaccine website for more information.
- If I get vaccinated, can I stop wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)? No. Even if you’ve had a COVID-19 vaccine you still need to wear a mask to protect yourself and others. We will still require face coverings at all VA facilities.
- Can I be vaccinated if I’ve already had COVID-19? It is recommended that persons having a history of Covid-19 disease should still receive the vaccine as it might help you be more immune to getting the disease again.
- Will I be able to get the vaccine through my VA-approved community provider? The COVID-19 vaccines that we expect to be authorized for use first require special storage and handling. Because of this, we’ll start by offering vaccines through certain VA Medical Centers. When more vaccines are available, we’ll determine if we can provide vaccines through our community provider network.
- Will I have to pay a copay for the COVID-19 vaccine? We don’t charge Veterans who are enrolled in VA health care a copay for vaccinations provided during a health visit. At this time, we’re not planning to charge any fee for the COVID-19 vaccine.
- What happens if I change my mind and decide I do not want to get the COVID- 19 vaccine after scheduling a time to get vaccinated? You can change your mind at any time. Given the limited supply of vaccine, we simply ask that you contact your care team as soon as possible so we can offer the vaccine to another Veteran.
- What if I have additional questions? Veterans seeking additional information should visit the VA Coronavirus Vaccine FAQs webpage, or can call our COVID-19 Vaccine Hotline at 405-456-7119, Monday - Friday from 7:30am - 4:00pm.