VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System
VAGLAHS Provides COVID-19 Vaccine to Centenarian
LOS ANGELES – Since mid-December of 2020, VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System (VAGLAHS) has administered more than 25,000 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines to our Veterans and staff. On Jan. 29, 2021, Robert Hays, a 100-year-old U.S. Army Veteran, received his final dose of the COVID-19 vaccination at VAGLAHS’ West Los Angeles (WLA) campus.
“We value each of our Veterans, but we pay special attention to our most vulnerable Veterans, including those who are older and more fragile,” said Steven Simon, MD, MPH, Chief of Staff, VAGLAHS. “Being able to vaccinate a centenarian and provide him with protection from infection is especially gratifying.”
There are currently two COVID-19 vaccinations being administered that received Emergency Use Authorization from the Food and Drug Administration. VAGLAHS has been administering vaccines in accordance with the recommendations issued by the Centers for Prevention and Disease Control (CDC). Mr. Hays’ received the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, which consists of two doses, administered intramuscularly three weeks apart.
“I got the vaccination because I wanted to be healthy and live and my daughter convinced me as well,” Mr. Hays said. “They said that everybody should take the vaccine because COVID-19 is contagious and if we all get it, we’ll all be safe.”
According to Mr. Hays’ daughter and caretaker, Barbara Lewis, he experienced no adverse reactions with either of the doses. Although Mrs. Lewis was initially hesitant about her father receiving the vaccine, after weighing the alternatives she experienced a change of heart.
“At first, I was skeptical just like everyone else, but I prayed on it. When his time came up, there was no question of whether he would receive the vaccine. We knew that was the right thing to do,” Mrs. Lewis said. “I was amazed that he didn’t feel any side effects. His arm wasn’t sore, he forgot he even had it. He did really well and I was surprised and impressed.”
While there are many vaccines that place a weakened or inactivated germ into the body to trigger an immune response, neither of the two COVID-19 vaccines being administered can give someone COVID-19. This is because they are messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mRNA vaccines are a new approach to protecting against infectious diseases. mRNA vaccines do not use the virus, instead they teach cells how to make a piece of the same protein that’s found on the surface of the virus that causes COVID-19. That protein then triggers an immune response inside of the body that produces antibodies, which are what protects someone from getting infected if the real virus enters the body.
“Millions of people, and tens of thousands of Veterans, have safely received the vaccine. The known risks of COVID-19 and its complications far outweigh any hypothetical concerns about the vaccine,” Dr. Simon said. “The COVID-19 vaccines are safe, extremely effective, and they represent a key piece of the puzzle to ending the pandemic.”
In addition to administering vaccines at the WLA campus, VAGLAHS has expanded its vaccination efforts to the ambulatory care centers in Downtown Los Angeles and Sepulveda, as well as the community-based outpatient clinics in Bakersfield, East Los Angeles, Lancaster, Oxnard and Santa Maria. In addition, VAGLAHS is looking to expand to community-based vaccine events, which are events that don’t occur at a VA facility, in order to ensure that every Veteran who receives care with VAGLAHS has an opportunity to receive this vaccine.
“For people who are hesitant about the vaccine, I would tell them to get it,” Mrs. Lewis said. “If my father, at 100 years old, had no problems then most people will not have any problems with the vaccine. Everyone has got to be safe, wear a mask and just get the vaccine, that’s the bottom line.”
To receive updates and stay informed about the COVID-19 vaccine, please visit https://www.losangeles.va.gov/services/covid-19-vaccines.asp.