About two months ago I wrote here about the pandemic and the heavier toll it was taking on our veterans. The casualties were often those with pre-existing conditions that were consequences of their military service. At the time the data showed the following:
“According to the most current figures as I write, nearly 80,000 COVID-19 cases have been recorded at VA medical facilities. Of that number, just over 4,000 have died. Meaning that the rate of death is 5%. Overall, COVID-19 cases in the U.S. now stand at 9.5 million, with just over 233,000 deaths, which is a rate of 2.5%. Do the simple math. Veterans are evidently dying at twice the rate. It could be that the wide age distribution in the general population affects overall COVID-19 death rates and is not comparable to the age distribution within the VA population. Nonetheless, 5% vs. 2.5% gives one pause.”
Today, that same paragraph with updated data reads:
“According to the most current figures as I write, nearly 142,511 COVID-19 cases have been recorded at VA medical facilities. Of that number, just over 6,192 have died. Meaning that the rate of death is 4%. Overall, COVID-19 cases in the U.S. now stand at 18.5 million, with just over 327,000 deaths, which is a rate of 1.7%. Do the simple math. Veterans are evidently dying at twice the rate. It could be that the wide age distribution in the general population affects overall COVID-19 death rates and is not comparable to the age distribution within the VA population. Nonetheless, 4% vs. 1.7% gives one pause.”
As COVID deaths at VA facilities have gone up 50%, in tandem with the number of deaths nationwide, the veterans’ death rates as a percentage of the veterans’ infection rates remain double that of the general population. Additionally, approximately 3,000 health workers have died from COVID-19 in the U.S. overall. Of that number, 90 VA health workers have died from COVID-19, about 3% of the total health care workers nationwide. Dark times still lie ahead, however on a more optimistic note:
The Veterans Administration has put out the following message regarding the rollout of COVID vaccinations for our veterans. This was in an email I received several days ago:
“COVID-19 vaccines: Stay informed and help us prepare
We’re working to get COVID-19 vaccines to Veterans as quickly and safely as possible based on CDC guidelines and available supply. We need your help to prepare. And we want to keep you informed at every step.
Sign up below to help us understand your interest in getting a vaccine. We’ll send you updates on how we’re providing vaccines across the country—and when you can get your vaccine if you want one. We’ll also offer information and answers to your questions along the way.
When you sign in, we can fill in some of your information for you.”
This is the place to SIGN IN.
If you are a veteran, I suggest doing so immediately. Signing in does not mean you are compelled to get your vaccine from the VA. If you have an opportunity to receive an available vaccine before you are notified by the VA, then get vaccinated immediately. Subsequently, you can simply turn down any offer from the VA. Please pass this information to every veteran you know.
Meanwhile, the first VA patient to get the COVID vaccine in a VA facility was a 96 year old WWII veteran, Margaret Klessens, a resident of the Community Living Center in the Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital. For the moment, vaccines are destined only for the front-line care workers and residents of VA facilities. Given that veterans are now getting their vaccines, the U.S. Flag at the Veterans Flag Pole in Fairhaven, which had been at half-staff since April (Veterans, COVID, and a Flag at Half-Staff), was returned to full staff to recognize that veterans are now getting protection against this terrible virus.