Veterans vaccinated at LA-area American Legion posts

As the quantity of COVID-19 vaccinations increases, distribution logistics have been a challenge in many parts of the country. The Department of Veterans Affairs and several American Legion posts have taken on that challenge by joining forces to vaccinate veterans “where veterans are,” explained a Los Angeles-area VA official.

On Saturday, March 6, American Legion Post 790 in West Covina, Calif., provided facilities for the VA Medical Center of Greater Los Angeles to conduct a vaccination clinic for veterans.

Rob Merchant, executive director of ambulatory care for the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System put the alliance this way: “We are making an effort … with The American Legion here to bring the vaccines where veterans are, not where the VA is.”

The March 6 clinic was the first among several planned for the San Gabriel Valley region of Los Angeles County over the next month. Most of the vaccination events will be conducted at American Legion posts, such as Post 261 in El Monte this week.

The West Covina event was open to all veterans enrolled in the VA health-care system, without age restrictions. Merchant said his team expected to vaccinate nearly 300 veterans who called in advance to schedule appointments at Post 790. Follow-up appointments for the second shot were also set. “There’s no question as to when you’ll be getting that second dose,” Merchant said. “Our supply of the vaccine is steady. We’re getting it directly from VA national, down through our network and to our facilities.”

Post 790 member Auggie Galaviz, 1st Vice Commander for The American Legion Department of California’s 18th District, occupied a display table at the vaccination clinic March 6 that provided veterans with brochures and information about the organization. “I got to speak with many veterans who are not members, and they were impressed with the coalition with Veterans Affairs, the county supervisor … and they were willing to take these forms and they wanted to know more about The American Legion.”

Galaviz used the opportunity for he and his wife to get their vaccinations, as well. “It’s real simple,” he said. “It’s real quick. They are very efficient. VA – they got it down to the moment. You go in there… boom, boom, boom and you're out of there.”