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Vaccinate NEPA: Walk-in vaccination clinic held at Wilkes-Barre VA

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WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — As the vaccination efforts continue, some local clinics are focused on getting veterans and their families vaccinated. To date, the Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center has administered more than 25,000 doses.

The VA is working tirelessly to get the veteran community vaccinated. All veterans, their spouses and caregivers qualified to get the shot there. Anyone within the same household who provides assistance to a veteran is classified as a caregiver.

“Within the couple of weeks we’ve been able to open up to additional veterans, their spouses and their caregivers as well as a result of the Save Lives Act,” said Russell Lloyd, Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center director.

Spouses and caregivers of veterans filled the clinic Wednesday at the medical center in Plains Township

“I think it’s great there’s such lines everywhere right now to sign up and this was an immediate opportunity for me to get in,” said Bonnie Shane, a spouse of a veteran.

Shane’s husband was a Navy seaman who was vaccinated back in February. She tells us finally getting the vaccine for herself feels liberating.

“It’s been a hard year, you’re always afraid you’re going to expose somebody unknowingly or catch it yourself, but more, I don’t want to give it to people,” Shane said.

“The more people that can get the vaccine, the sooner we can get out of our mask wearing and social distancing,” said Lisa Ditchey, also a spouse of a veteran.

Ditchey also got her first dose of the Moderna vaccine Wednesday.

“Super easy! I mean he was down getting his vaccine, and the registration said ‘how about if your wife needed one?’ He was able to sign me up then, so it was very easy,” said Ditchey.

Up until Tuesday, the VA has been providing both the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

Medical center director Russell Lloyd says the temporary pause on the J&J vaccine is not slowing them down.

“We’ve got a more than adequate supply of the Moderna vaccine, so we have really not had a negative impact,” said Lloyd

Lloyd’s not worried about waste either, as the J&J vaccine can last up to three months in a refrigerator.

“We’re keeping close tabs on our supply, making sure that they are protected appropriately and refrigerated and so there won’t be any loss as a result of the temporary pause,” Lloyd said.

The efforts continue Thursday as the VA is hosting a clinic at the Towanda American Legion from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The Moderna vaccine will be given to all veterans, their spouses and their caregivers.

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