SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) — Overton Brooks VA Medical Center celebrated Wednesday, Feb. 3 after giving its 5,000th COVID-19 vaccination.
Recognized as the 5,000th among staffers and veterans at the Shreveport hospital was local veteran William O. Junior. He later told KSLA News 12 that the honor was news to him too — good news.
“Oh, it’s just great, just great. I just couldn’t hardly believe it when they told me I was the 5,000th vaccine taker. I’m so proud of that,” he said.
“And I hope all the veterans come over and get their shots.”
More than 4,200 veterans have lined up for their first and second shots since the new year began. They are at least 75 years old or have serious underlying health issues.
That goes along with nearly 800 VA employees, with all taking the Moderna vaccine.
Dr. Sevetri Moore-Guillaume, chief medical officer at Overton Brooks, said they also have seen at least some vaccine hesitation, as she calls it.
“However, people are coming forward as they talk to their friends and see that they haven’t had consequences or severe side effects of having received the vaccine. So, yes, we’re getting more people signing up.”
Moore-Guillaume estimated that Overton Brooks averages 200 vaccinations a day. The medical center also is working with outlying areas to set up potential off-site vaccination locations in the weeks and months ahead, she added.
Overton Brooks administered its first Moderna vaccine Dec. 22.
The vaccine first was offered to health care workers, followed closely by veterans at the beginning of 2021. VA officials said nearly 800 employees volunteered to get the vaccine, as well as more than 4,200 veterans.
“Our vaccination team has made amazing strides since the first vaccine delivery,” said Richard Crockett, medical center director. “The sheer volume of vaccinations is unlike many health care personnel have seen during their career.
“These women and men arrive at work every day ready to vaccinate a very appreciative and excited veteran population. It’s great to hear the proud comments from veterans.”
At this time, the VA in Shreveport still is only vaccinating veterans who are age 75 or older or who have serious underlying health issues that would make them more susceptible to the virus.
There is no need to preregister or visit the facility to sign up. Teams at the VA are calling eligible veterans to offer them the shots. The facility also is scheduling vaccine appointments at its clinics in Monroe, Longview and Texarkana.
VA hospital officials anticipate receiving more doses over time and hope to eventually vaccinate all staff members and veterans who wish to get the shots. Eligible veterans should call (318) 990-5820 with any questions.