St. Joseph County VA Clinic holds 'Vaccine Blitz' for 500 veterans first doses

NOW: St. Joseph County VA Clinic holds ’Vaccine Blitz’ for 500 veterans first doses

MISHAWAKA, Ind. - President Joe Biden announced at the beginning of his presidency that he wanted to vaccinate 100 million people by the end of his first 100 days in office. As part of that effort, the St. Joseph County Veterans' Affairs (VA) Clinic in Mishawaka, received 500 doses of the Moderna Vaccine this week to distribute among its clients. After two and half days of planning and 3000 phone calls, the St. Joseph County VA Clinic put on its "Vaccine Blitz" on Saturday.

"Come on, guys," said Allen Kardell, one of the veterans who got his first dose on Saturday. "Get over here, guys and women. Come over and get your shot. It's simple and very easy to get in and out. So, no excuses. Let's get her done."

Kardell said getting his first dose on Saturday was a blessing and a great opportunity because he had already been put on a waiting list for his first dose through another avenue, but he did not know how long it would be until he could get it. He said when the VA called him and said they could get it done as early as Saturday, he said 'let's get her done.'

"Within two and a half days, we made more than 3000 calls asking veterans if they want to come up today," said Eddie Anjos, the Clinic Director of Operations at the St. Joseph County VA Clinic. "We got the 510 veterans so that we can give all the 510 doses that we have."

Anjos said the clinic was distributing vaccines from eight in the morning to about 3:15 in the afternoon on Saturday, and by 2:30 in the afternoon, he said they were on pace to get first doses to about 498 veterans. The process consisted primarily of three steps: check in, get your shot, wait 15 minutes to make sure there are no severe adverse side effects.

Anjos said no one had any severe side effects and to put something like this on for veterans fits in with his passion.

"We fight on behalf of the veterans including this fight that we're getting right now with the Coronavirus," Anjos said. "So, we are giving a little bit to the community, to the veterans to make sure that we come to a normal life again very soon."

Anjos said the clinic would continue to distribute vaccines during this next week, but wanted to see how successful a mass vaccination day would go. He said Saturday was a "complete success."

"I feel gratitude to the staff and also as a veteran myself, gratitude to the veterans that are coming up here to get their first shot," Anjos said.

Veterans like Allen Kardell said the opportunity to get vaccinated is too important to pass up.

"It's quick, quick and easy," Kardell said. "Now you're going to be protected."

The veterans who came through Saturday were only given their first doses of the Moderna vaccine. Clinic officials said they plan to do another "blitz" style event for everyone's second dose on March 6th.

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