Local veterans line up to get COVID-19 vaccine at Salisbury VA event

SALISBURY, N.C. — Another mass vaccination event this weekend is helping some of the community’s most vulnerable.

COVID-19 has taken a huge toll on veterans in senior living settings, so the Salisbury VA Medical Center hosted a vaccination event Saturday and Sunday.

VA staff and volunteers were there with the goal of vaccinating at least 1,000 veterans. Nurses who worked the event said they did not see much hesitancy on the part of the vets, instead, said they felt like it was their duty.

“What I’m seeing in this clinic is joy and gratitude, and it’s coming from both sides, not just the veterans but the staff, and everyone is so excited to see each other,” VA nurse Melissa Yost said.

Dr. Randal Gale, chief of staff at the Bill Hefner Center, said he is happy to see veterans lining up to get the shot, like Paul Davis and Walter Steelman.

“I’ve been fully on board to get it done and get everybody else I know to get the shot,” Steelman said.

“I think it was the right thing to do,” Davis said.

But not all veterans have been on board. Since December, more than 5,500 veterans have been vaccinated, but 15,000 are eligible.

“Not everybody is going to take one, first pass. There are a lot of people who are going to wait and see. I just tell them to pay attention to the facts, the data,” Gale said.

The Salisbury VA has been vaccinating veterans since December, but this was their first opportunity to hold a mass vaccination clinic.

VA centers around the country have struggled during the pandemic. More than 207,000 residents and employees have tested positive for COVID-19, and more than 9,000 have died.

The Salisbury VA had multiple outbreaks. In the latest outbreak, 21 residents and staff tested positive and one resident died.