WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The West Palm Beach Veterans Affairs Medical Center hit a milestone, vaccinating more than 10,000 veterans and health care workers against COVID-19.
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Grover Lines, 75, a U.S. Army veteran, is now closer to being around family, friends and his grandchildren more often.
"I feel great. I feel relieved. It is a weight lifted off my shoulders," Lines said.
Lines feels grateful that he did not have to compete with a general population of seniors to get the COVID-19 vaccine. He said his wife, sisters and other friends have been struggling to make appointments for the vaccine.
"They're all having the same problem getting on their website trying to get the shot from the Publix or wherever they can," added Lines.
He has been receiving care at the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center for 15 years.
In late December, the VA Medical Center got its first shipment of vaccines. Since then, they have vaccinated more than 11,000, including veterans over 70 and health care workers.
"Twenty-thousand or more are over 70 years old, so we really want to make sure based on the vulnerability that we're capturing that older group first since they are the highest vulnerability for death," said Amber Thomas, chief of nurse operations at the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center.
Thomas said the center is getting an allotment of vaccines every week through the Veterans Health Administration.
"To me, it's the race against time. To me, every time we can get the vaccine in a veteran as well as the second dose, then we’re assuring them a higher efficacy and a chance for survival if they should get exposed," Thomas said.
They’ve already started giving second doses. Lines got his final shot this week. He said it's a relief and a great feeling having served his country and glad that he and other veterans were not forgotten.
"We served our country, and we did what we could for our country, and I feel a privilege that I'm part of the system," Lines said.
The VA Medical Center has vaccine appointments for enrolled veterans Monday through Saturday and options for clinic locations in Delray Beach, Stuart and Fort Pierce.
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