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Save Lives Act allows VA to vaccinate veterans, their spouses, and caregivers

Published: Apr. 10, 2021 at 10:42 PM EDT
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MIDDLEBURY, Vt. (WCAX) - As COVID vaccines become more readily available, the White River Junction VA has partnered with Middlebury College to vaccinate what they hope will be 500 veterans, their spouses and their caregivers.

“I feel great. It was easy, done deal, and in two weeks from now, I’ll feel a lot safer being out there,” said John Melia of Keene.

Melia is a Navy veteran. He was one of the hundreds of veterans, spouses and caregivers who got poked on Saturday with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at the Middlebury College Athletics Complex. He also lost his father to coronavirus complications 10 months ago.

Melia says he wanted to wait a few months before getting the shot because he feared it might have negative side effects. But he’s happy he made the decision to do it sooner.

“I did a little research before I came here to take this shot, even with Johnson and Johnson, and I think it’s a safe thing, and I’m glad I’m doing it, and I recommend a lot of other people do it,” said Melia.

Middlebury College jumped at the opportunity to help make that happen.

“We are thrilled to have this clinic here. I really believe that liberal arts and sciences colleges are places that should help their communities in as many ways as possible. So, when we knew this was an opportunity, we knew we had the facilities, and we were really excited to do it,” said Laurie Patton, the president of Middlebury College.

Under the new Save Lives Act, which was signed by President Biden in March, spouses, caregivers and anyone who supports veterans is eligible to receive the vaccine.

“By vaccinating people helping veterans, we are also providing a safe environment for our veterans to go home to, and that’s our part as the VA, is that we are trying to make that safe environment for veterans. They made a safe environment for us when they served and it’s time for us to do the same for them,” said Katherine Tang with the White River Junction VA.

”I found a poster at our local VFW in Rutland, and they talked about this clinic, so it was great. I called yesterday thinking there’s no way I’ll get in this quickly, and here I am today,” said Melissa Roberts from West Rutland.

The next vaccine clinic through the VA is this Friday in Westminster. It’s available for all veterans, their caregivers and spouses. You don’t have to be a member of the VA to be eligible.

You can find more information here.

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