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New legislation expands COVID-19 vaccine access to veterans, their spouses and caregivers

The VA Connecticut announced the expansion of eligibility to include anyone who has served in the military regardless of VA enrollment status.

NEWINGTON, Conn. — Connecticut’s veterans along with their spouses and caregivers can now receive COVID-19 vaccinations under the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

On Friday, the VA Connecticut announced the expansion of eligibility to include anyone who has served in the military regardless of VA enrollment status as part of new legislation.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal was instrumental in passing this bill and visited the VA Medical Center in Newington to highlight Connecticut’s efforts to vaccinate veterans.

“It’s a great sense of relief,”’ said Air Force veteran Jeffrey Watson of Bristol, who received the Moderna vaccine.

“I found out this morning that they had this clinic and I was able to drive right in,” he said. “Walked in and I’ve been here for 10 minutes. I already got my shot. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is a veteran.”

He called his wife to join him.

“She’s been frustrated with not being able to find appointments and was definitely jealous when I was able to get this and just walk in,” Watson said. “It could have not been easier.”

The “Save Lives Act” allows veterans’ spouses and caregivers to receive no-cost COVID-19 vaccinations through the VA.

“Now here’s the reason for this program,” Blumenthal said. “Number one the availability of vaccines to spouses and caregivers as well as veterans means there’s less pressure on the rest of our healthcare system in delivering vaccines.”

VA Director Al Montoya said veterans had expressed concerns spouses could not receive vaccines.

“It really allows VA Connecticut as well as VAs across the country to be able to deliver Vaccines to spouses, caregivers and veterans regardless of when they served or how they served,” said Montoya.

Montoya said they have delivered over 22,000 vaccinations to veterans. They’re offering the Johnson and Johnson vaccine next week.

The VA will have upcoming clinics through the end of April. No appointment is necessary.

Clinic information is posted at www.connecticut.va.gov and www.facebook.com/VAConnecticut.

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