Veteran vaccine clinic coming to city

WESTFIELD – Veterans, their spouses and caregivers are encouraged to get the COVID-19 vaccine April 17 at Westfield High School.

The clinic, sponsored by the Veterans’ Affairs Central Western Massachusetts Healthcare System and the Westfield Veterans’ Services Office will have 400 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. This is a single-dose vaccine.

Pre-registration is required by calling the Veterans’ Affairs (VA) office at 413-582-3110 and instructions will be provided.

City Veterans’ Services Director Julie Barnes said she is excited to have the clinic in Westfield.

“The VA is working hard to get the shots out there. They have the one-dose available now which makes things a lot easier for everyone involved,” she said.

Barnes said the SAVE LIVES ACT is currently implemented by the VA. This allows vaccinating of veterans not enrolled in the VA Healthcare System, spouses and caregivers. Veterans who are not eligible for VA healthcare, due to assets, discharge character, etc., are still eligible for the shot.

Barnes said her husband pre-registered and although not enrolled in VA Healthcare, easily obtained an appointment.

“We found it is best to sign up for the vaccine on the VA website and then call once you get your confirmation text. I know our older population might not be able to do this,” said Barnes. “When I spoke to the VA appointment line this morning, they said everything can be done on the phone at 413-582-3110 – it just may take longer.”

Barnes said just like with the entire U.S. population, it’s taking time to get the shots out to veterans “but the VA is doing a great job. There are a lot of town clinics being implemented. We are very appreciative to the VA for coming to Westfield.”

There is no preregistration deadline, however there are only 400 appointments available and Barnes encouraged people to call soon. Barnes added that if anyone needs transportation they should contact her and she will work with local veterans groups to get them a ride.

“This is available to any veteran in any town, any age,” said Barnes. “The vaccine available to all veterans, veteran spouses and caregivers of all ages.”

The clinic is from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. at the Westfield High School Cafeteria, 77 Montgomery Road.

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