The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is urging veterans to get a flu shot this fall and has made arrangements to have more vaccines available and easier to obtain.
“Out of any year in your lifetime, this is the year to get your flu shot,” said Dr. Jane Kim, a VA physician. “This is an extraordinary year and it’s to protect you and your family. Flu shots are safe and effective.
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and VA recommend that you can start getting your flu shot in September when we have vaccines in our clinics and hospitals,” she told The American Legion in an interview. “You want to be prepared and protected.
To accommodate an expected increase in people getting flu vaccines this year, VA has ordered 220,000 more flu vaccines than last year to meet the demands and avoid vaccine shortages. For those veterans who don’t live near a VA medical facility, getting a flu shot will be easier this year. The Community Care Network has expanded to include more than 60,000 partner locations where enrolled veterans can get a no-cost flu shot.
“There is a community care locator where you can go on the web and type in your zip code or address to pull up locations near you,” she said.
With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to scourge the United States, it is mandatory for VA staff that come in contact with patients to get their flu shot this year, according to Dr. Kim. In previous years, the vaccine was optional, she added.
“People are scared to go out,” she said. “But VA medical centers and facilities have really taken measures to make sure when people come in for necessary services, they are as safe as possible.”
For more information on the flu vaccine, visit https://www.va.gov/communitycare/flushot.asp and to find the location nearest to you to receive your annual flu vaccine, visit https://www.va.gov/find-locations.