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VA’s top doctor visits front line of COVID fight at Colorado clinics

Serving Those Who Serve

AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) – The top doctor in the Veteran’s Health Administration stopped in Colorado Monday. And they put him straight to work.

Dr. Richard Stone, acting Under Secretary for Health, administered a coronavirus vaccine to a Colorado veteran during a stop at the VA’s mass COVID-19 vaccine site on Jewell Avenue in Aurora.

“We’ve been delivering 500-600 vaccines a day (at the Aurora site). Since the Johnson & Johnson problem that led to a pause, we’re still doing between 300 and 400 a day at this very clinic,” Stone told FOX31.

Volunteers from as far off as Georgia, Florida and northern California have traveled to Colorado to help vaccinate the state’s massive veteran population. More than 25,000 veterans served by the Veterans Administration in Colorado are already fully vaccinated.

“Frankly the work of this system throughout the pandemic, more than one year now, has saved countless lives. And now to do the vaccination work might allow us to get to the end of this very long road,” Stone said.

The V.A. thought they might have to convince veterans to get the vaccine, but numbers released this month show only about 3% of veterans have refused it when offered. And that’s not the only good news for the agency, especially in Colorado, where they’re down to just six inpatients at the Denver-area hospital being treated for COVID-19.

“We’ve seen tremendous reduction in the number of acute patients that we’re seeing. I think there’s a light at the end of the tunnel,” Stone said.

For an agency that covers some 44,000 square miles in eastern Colorado and surrounding states, and tends to more than 130,000 veterans in our area, the task is still a tall one. But on his visit Monday, Dr. Stone sees great progress.

“The hope of getting to the very end of this long last mile is what’s so exciting in these vaccine clinics,” Stone told FOX31.

The Veterans Health Administration has opened up vaccinations not just for veterans, but for their spouses and caretakers as well. For more information on scheduling a vaccine through the V.A. system, visit their website.

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