Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System
Nurse Receives First GCVHCS COVID-19 Vaccination
BILOXI, Miss. – A Biloxi Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center registered nurse received the Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System’s (GCVHCS) first Coronavirus-19 (COVID-19) vaccination Dec. 22.
U.S. Navy Veteran Shane Pierce, a registered nurse serving as the Biloxi VA Medical Center Acute Care manager, received the first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccination after volunteering through the organization’s COVID-19 vaccination program, something he felt important during a period of uncertainty dominated by the ongoing global health crisis.
“One of the major reasons I want to get one is not only to protect myself, but to protect my family, because I see people who don’t know they have it, and they take it home to their family and their family gets sick from it,” Pierce said. “So if we can all go get immunized, that will at least help prevent the spread of COVID.”
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) worked closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Operation Warp Speed to plan for vaccination for Veterans Health Administration (VHA) staff and Veterans, adhering to CDC recommendations and VA guidance to ensure organizations and facilities are protecting front-line medical professionals and those most vulnerable to the virus.
“In accordance with this guidance, we're first going to provide vaccination to our front-line health care workers and our Veterans residing in our community living center (CLC) first,” said GCVHCS Director Bryan C. Matthews. “Our health care workers will be among the first to receive vaccinations because they are at high risk for contracting and spreading COVID-19 to other staff members and patients, and their health is critical to ensuring the continued care of Veterans.”
Along with Pierce, U.S. Navy Veteran Robert Ford, a resident in the Biloxi VA Medical Center’s Community Living Center (CLC) was the first Veteran in the GCVHCS area of operations to receive the vaccine.
“Our Veterans in long-term care facilities will be the first patient group to be vaccinated,” he said. “As vaccine supplies increase, additional Veterans will receive vaccinations based on factors such as age, existing health problems and other considerations that increase the risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19.”
Matthews said that the facility receiving the vaccine provided a sense of relief to the hundreds of front-line medical professionals at the GCVHCS, many of whom have been involved with Veterans since the onset of the global health crisis.
“I’ve watched our health care heroes work day in and day out since the beginning of this pandemic saving veterans lives, and this morning when the vaccine came off the truck, it was very emotional and more so emotional to see our first employee get the vaccination,” he said.
Matthews added that Veterans can learn more about the VA’s plan for COVID-19 vaccination at the Veterans seeking additional information should visit the VA Coronavirus Vaccine FAQs webpage, contact their care team, or visit their facility website.
The Biloxi VA Medical Center and the Mobile, Pensacola, Eglin and Panama City VA Clinics 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 70,000 Veterans.