Q&A: How veterans can get a COVID-19 vaccination

Steve Mocarsky, The Citizens' Voice, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
·3 min read

Mar. 17—The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Plains Twp. is hosting a COVID-19 Vaccine Walk-In Clinic from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday for all veterans enrolled for services at the facility.

Here's what veterans need to know:

Q: Does a veteran have to meet Pennsylvania's Phase 1A eligibility requirements (be 65 or older or have a serious medical condition) to receive a vaccination at the clinic?

A: No. At this time, the medical center is offering the vaccine to all enrolled veterans, regardless of age or medical condition, provided, of course, that there are no contra indicators for the vaccine, such as having symptoms for COVID-19 or being in close contact with someone who has it.

Q: Where is the medical center?

A: The address is 1111 East End Blvd., Plains Twp.

Q: Which manufacturer is providing vaccine for the clinic?

A: Moderna.

Q: What do patients need to bring with them to the clinic?

A: Nothing is required. If they are already enrolled for VA healthcare, they can simply sign in using their Social Security Number.

Q: Will the VA enroll you for services on the spot if you show up for the walk-in clinic but are not already enrolled?

A: Eligible veterans can be enrolled on the spot. The Eligibility and Enrollment Office is located in the basement, just off the lobby.

Q: What is required for on-the-spot enrollment?

A: If the veteran has a copy of their DD-214 and they fill out the Application for Healthcare Benefits (VA form 10-10EZ, available in the Eligibility and Enrollment Office), the office can make a determination on enrollment. Veterans determined eligible for enrollment would then be able to receive a shot at the walk-in clinic, schedule an appointment for a vaccination, or schedule an appointment for care.

Q: Can a veteran who is determined ineligible for care still receive a vaccination at a VA clinic?

A: Unfortunately, no.

Q: If a veteran can't attend the clinic on Saturday, are there other options for getting a COVID-19 vaccination through the VA hospital?

A: Yes. If an enrolled veteran is unable to make the clinic this Saturday, they can call 570-830-7076 to schedule a vaccination at the medical center in Plains Twp. or one of the VA's community-based outpatient clinics. If a veteran is unable to enroll prior to the walk-in clinic, they can call that same number to schedule a vaccination once a determination on eligibility has been rendered.

Q: Can you enroll for VA services in advance? If so, how?

A: There are three options for enrollment in VA healthcare:

1. Enroll over the phone by calling the Health Eligibility Center (HEC) in Atlanta at 1-877-222-8387, option 1. There is a voice-captured signature feature for phone enrollment.

2. Enroll online at www.va.gov/enrollment

3. Print out VA form 10-10EZ, fill it out in full, and mail it, along with a copy of your DD-214, to: Department of Veteran Affairs, Medical Center 693 Dept. 136E, 1111 East End Blvd., Wilkes Barre, PA 18711.

Q: What is the financial threshold to qualify for VA hospital care?

A: Financial thresholds vary by ZIP code, and there are other factors that may deem a veteran automatically eligible for VA health benefits, regardless of income. Examples include service in-country in Vietnam, service at Camp Lejeune for more than 30 days, and several other factors. It is recommended that the veteran apply and allow VA officials to make the determination, as there are many different eligibility factors and every veteran's case is unique.

Contact the writer: smocarsky@citizensvoice.com; 570-821-2110; @MocarskyCV