Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System
GCVHCS Vaccinates 10,000th Gulf Coast-area Veteran
BILOXI, Miss. -- The Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System's (GCVHCS) Biloxi Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center administered the organization's 10,000th dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccination Feb. 13 during the organization's COVID-19 appointment-only vaccination clinic at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum in Biloxi, Mississippi.
U.S. Navy Veteran Camille Spencer received the vaccine during the day-long event, an effort GCVHCS Director Bryan C. Matthews said is the result of significant efforts of the organization employees, many of whom are Veterans themselves.
"Our medical professionals, supply chain, and administrative personnel have been part of an outstanding effort to provide these much-needed vaccinations to our nation's heroes," said GCVHCS Director Bryan C. Matthews. "Being able to administer the 10,000th dose of this vaccine during what can only be described as a challenging logistical feat speaks to the continued efforts of the GCVHCS staff."
Spencer, along with more than 1,000 other Gulf Coast Veterans, received the vaccination during a GCVHCS vaccination clinic, including Biloxi, Mississippi, and Pensacola, Florida. Using the mass vaccination model used by numerous public health organizations, both the Biloxi and Pensacola facilities offered appointment only COVID-19 vaccinations, according to Dr. M. Christopher Saslo, the GCVHCS associate director for patient care services and nurse executive.
"This effort helps boost the number of vaccines being delivered to our Veteran population with the support of the VA Network Office and VA Central Office efforts," he said. "With more than 75,000 registered Veterans throughout the Gulf Coast, it is vital to maximizing these efforts in order to minimize risk to our Veterans at risk for exposure."
The GCVHCS has been administering doses of the vaccine since January 2021, providing vaccinations to Veterans in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations and VA guidelines, which include Veterans over the age of 65; Veterans with high-risk medical conditions determined by their Patient-Aligned Care Team (PACT); Veterans who are essential workers; and caregivers of a Veteran enrolled in the Comprehensive Caregiver Support Program and receiving a monthly allotment from the VA.
Matthews added that as more doses of the COVID-19 vaccine become available, other priority groups will be vaccinated.
"Like medical facilities across the nation, we're currently receiving limited doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and are providing these to Veterans in the CDC-recommended priority groups," he said. "But as we receive more, we'll begin vaccinating other Veterans living along the Gulf Coast and receiving care at our other CBOCS in Pensacola, Eglin and Panama City Beach, Florida, in Mobile, Alabama, and at the Biloxi VA Medical Center in Biloxi, Mississippi."
Veterans in the current priority group interested in receiving the COVID-19 vaccination through the GCVHCS are encouraged to call 1-800-296-8872 (Option 2, then Option 1) to schedule an appointment. Additionally, updates on the GCVHCS website, the GCVHCS Facebook site, and on Instagram @vagulfcoast, for vaccine phase updates.
The Biloxi VA Medical Center, along with the Mobile Community-based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) and Pensacola, Eglin, and Panama City Beach CBOCS, are all part of the Gulf Coast Veterans Healthcare System (GCVHCS), which is headquartered in Biloxi, Mississippi, and provide a variety of medical outpatient services to more than 75,000 Veterans.