TOWANDA, BRADFORD COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — During the course of the vaccine rollout, many of Pennsylvania’s rural areas have had difficulty obtaining mass clinics. But despite an unforeseeable logistic change, the Department of Veteran’s Affairs remained committed to holding Thursday’s event in Bradford County.
“The VA has been very fortunate in the vaccine that we have been receiving,” said Bill Klaips, public affairs officer with the VA Medical Center in Wilkes-Barre Township.
The VA paid that good fortune forward by committing to a vaccine clinic in Towanda, at the American Legion Post 42. A commitment they followed through on, despite having to change vaccines after use of the Johnson & Johnson shot was paused.
“When the issues came up earlier this week it was a simple matter of notifying the veterans that were scheduled for their appointments, veterans spouses and caregivers,” Klaips said.
“Of course we got the folks who don’t want to get in and are afraid to get it, what have you, but given the opportunity where they don’t have to drive all the way down the road to get to the vaccine is really important,” said Pete Miller, Bradford County director of Veterans Services.
Among them was Kay Kittner who was not originally on board to get a vaccine. But she says she sees it becoming more of a necessity.
“If they’re going to require them to go on trips and different things like that, then I guess I have to get it. It was very easy to book the appointment, I mean they answered right away and got me right in,” Kittner said.
But that’s a far cry from the experience many rural residents through the first couple of months of the vaccine rollout.
Cindy Brown had been trying to get an appointment for months. She takes care of her father, a 93-year-old World War II veteran, and Eyewitness News actually helped get her here today.
“Last week, I think you had it on Channel 28 about the post here. I called them right away that morning, down to the Wilkes-Barre VA, and talked to a very nice lady,” Brown said.
While skepticism is still out there, the accessibility is making more people comfortable with vaccines, whether it’s the one they thought they were going to get, or not.
“You need to follow your heart. To begin with, you know, know what you want to do, and if the shot is something that you need to do then you know you got to get it,” Kittner said.
The VA says there was little impact with the changing of doses after Johnson & Johnson was put on pause this week.
Those who got their shot Thursday will be heading back to the American Legion in four weeks for dose two of the Moderna vaccine.
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