• The Star Staff

Phase 1-B of virus vaccination for veterans gets underway

By John McPhaul


Veterans Advocate Agustín Montañez Allman announced Wednesday that he received notification from the Veterans Hospital in San Juan that phase 1-B of the vaccination program against COVID-19 will begin for patients aged 75 years or older and those with other serious conditions who are enrolled to receive service at that hospital.

Montañez Allman said residents and staff at the Juana Díaz Veterans Home, an assisted living facility attached to the Veterans Advocate’s Office, have already been vaccinated.

The veterans advocate said that in phase 1-B of the vaccination drive under the jurisdiction of the federal government, it will be the hospital officials themselves who will call the veterans who already receive their hospital or ambulatory health services, at the telephone number they keep on file, to assign the day and time for the procedure.

Montañez Allman also said veterans who come to receive services at the Veterans Hospital do not have to do anything except wait to receive the phone call for the vaccination appointment.

In addition to starting with patients 75 years of age or older, phase 1-B will include those receiving hemodialysis, a transplant, or those on-call for transplants, as well as those receiving chemotherapy (regardless of age), and homeless veterans. More information is offered at https://www.va.gov/health-care/covid-19-vaccine.

The veterans advocate said veterans who do not receive medical services at the Veterans Hospital will receive the vaccine through the protocols established by the Puerto Rico Department of Health.

That is, Montañez Allman added, all veterans aged 65 or over will be seen for appointment by the 91 providers who meet the requirements of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to administer the vaccine to older adults.

“I want to be very precise and very emphatic. Nobody has to run anywhere,” Montañez Allman said. “The [Veterans] Hospital will assign the day and time of their vaccination to veterans who are already receiving their services. The rest of the veterans who do not go to that hospital will follow the protocol established for the general public by [the] Health [Department], [starting with] calling to coordinate their vaccination appointments with the selected providers.”

He said the island Health Department has published a list of health providers with the phone numbers that the elderly or relatives can call to receive information and make an appointment. The intention of the Health Department, Montañez Allman noted, is that citizens know which centers they can visit to be vaccinated, and how to communicate with those centers in order to make an appointment and avoid lines of older adults.

The veterans advocate stressed that older adults will not be vaccinated at the National Guard’s regional vaccination centers, which so far have been dedicated for vaccinating the remainder of health professionals in phase 1-A and front-line workers in phase 1-B. The Health Department has called on older adults not to go to the National Guard centers.

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