CLEVELAND — Thousands of veterans 65 and older signed up to receive their first dose of the Pfizer BioTech COVID-19 vaccine this weekend through the VA Northeast Ohio Healthcare System.
The Cleveland VA Medical Center, as well as Akron, Youngstown and Mansfield VA Clinics opened for special weekend appointments Saturday and Sunday.
“There’s no greater mission than serving those who served,” said VA spokesperson Kristen Parker. “They gave so much for our country and it’s the least we can do to take time—evenings, weekends, whatever—to get this done as quickly as possible.”
Many of those who were scheduled to receive their first dose of the vaccine this weekend couldn’t be more thrilled that their wait is over, including Navy veteran Freda Whaley.
Whaley, 71, served in the Navy for five years and is ready to get back to some kind of normalcy.
“I’m just so tired of not being able to do things,” Whaley said. “I belong to a ukulele group and we had a lot of gigs that we were doing and a lot we were signed up for. It’s a big part of my life and we can’t do that because of COVID-19.”
Whaley will receive her second dose of the vaccine in three weeks, getting her one step closer to getting her life back and returning to her ukulele club.
Nearly 4,000 veterans were scheduled for their vaccines this weekend and more will be contacted soon, but these are not walk-in appointments.
The VA Northeast Ohio Healthcare System is contacting veterans via telephone and will begin sending mailers with scheduling instructions starting Monday.
“We do not want veterans to experience long wait times by doing walk-in clinics,” said CEO Jill K. Dietrich. “This approach also helps us to follow ACIP guidelines regarding priority groups.”