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For a short time only, Fargo VA relaxes eligibility for veterans seeking COVID-19 vaccine

Veterans enrolled at the Fargo VA, regardless of their age, can receive the COVID-19 vaccine by appointment on Feb. 12, 13 and 15.

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Veteran Harlan Isensee with grandson and fellow veteran Justin Schulz fill out forms to receive their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

FARGO — The Fargo Veterans Affairs Health Care System has typically initiated contact with veterans to let them know they’re eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

But the facility has changed its tune in the short term due to temporary, relaxed eligibility requirements for the vaccine, according to Fargo VA Public Affairs Officer Ross Tweten.

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“Now, we’re encouraging them to call us,” Tweten said.
COVID-19 vaccine eligibility has been expanded to all veterans enrolled in VA healthcare, regardless of age, on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 12-13 and Monday, Feb. 15.

Generally, the COVID-19 vaccine has thus far been prioritized to veterans 65 or older, or 75 or older, depending on the location, number of veterans residing in that location and vaccine supply, he said.

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Veterans must be enrolled in VA healthcare to receive the vaccine through the VA and the shots are available by appointment only, Tweten said.

The vaccine supply received can be unpredictable, he said, but recently, the facility received what it considers to be a large shipment.

“So we made a strategic decision to administer it as quickly as possible rather than holding it back,” Tweten said.

The Fargo VA, which covers patients in all of North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota, has held vaccine "blitzes" in Minot, Grand Forks, and Bemidji.

At a clinic in Bismarck on Thursday, Feb. 11, approximately 800 doses were given, Tweten said.

Additional mass vaccinations are set for Fergus Falls on Feb. 16 and Grafton on Feb. 23.

The Fargo VA has given doses of the Moderna-brand vaccine to more than 5,700 veterans so far in North Dakota and northwest Minnesota.

When counting the second dose, which provides full immunity, the number is more than 9,000 doses total, Tweten said.

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Veterans enrolled in VA healthcare can call the Fargo VA at 701-239-3700 and select option 2 to schedule a COVID-19 vaccine appointment on Feb. 12, 13, or 15.

Those interested in enrolling in VA healthcare can call the Fargo VA’s Eligibility Office at 701-239-3700, extension 3428.

Huebner is a 35+ year veteran of broadcast and print journalism in Fargo-Moorhead.
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