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Health & Medicine

All CNY Veterans Eligible for Vaccination at Syracuse VA thru New Policy, Vaccine Availability

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Central New York was hit hard during the second wave of the Coronavirus, and the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Syracuse was no different. Director of the Medical Center Dr. Frank Pearson says despite the expected challenges, the hospital was able to successfully weather the storm.

“Within the confines of our hospital we have a community living center and a spinal cord unit as well.  And no veterans that were housed here n either of those units contracted COVID.  So that was nothing short of a miracle.”

The rollout of the three major Coronavirus vaccines continues to ramp up across the country. In this process, more and more populations are able to get the vaccine. Pearson says that's allowed the to open up eligibility.

“We’re pretty fortunate in that we’re getting a good vaccine supply.  We’re now able to open up vaccinations to all veterans.  In addition to that, the Veterans Administration has just come out with a new policy; … all enrolled veterans … are currently allowed, we’ll crack open the faucet to allow non-enrolled veterans also.” 

The VA will also be providing vaccines for veteran's spouses and caregivers. Satellite clinics have been set up in Binghamton, Rome, and Watertown to ease travel for veterans outside the greater-Syracuse area. For those that are homebound, says Pearson, the VA still has you covered.

“We have a population of veterans who are enrolled in what we call our home-based primary care system, and they are in large part home-bound.  We have them clearly identified.  We’ve reached out to all them at this point.  That’s approximately 80 veterans and we actually go to their homes and vaccinate them.” 

If you believe you are eligible for the COVID vaccine due to your service, you can call the VA’s appointment hotline at 315-425-4488. The hotline is open seven days a week between 8am and 4pm. More information can be found on their website: Syracuse.VA.Gov

Hospitalized Veterans Can Now Have Visitors

The Syracuse V-A Medical Center has also recently reopened up their visitation. Visitors will be screened for both symptoms of COVID-19 and any potential exposure to the virus. Throughout the entirety of the visit, the visitor will be required to stay in the patient’s room for a maximum of two hours.

"The updated policy conforms with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance on the management of visitors to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 and to keep Veterans and employees safe," the Center said in a relaese.

The visitation policy went into effect March 15th.  Visits can take place between 12:00 pm and 6:00 pm.  Vistors to the Community Living Center and Spinal Cord injury unit are by appointment only at (CLC) 315-425-4669 or (SCI) 315-425-3696.