PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Over the past month, both the Portland and Vancouver Veterans Affairs offices have been vaccinating veterans living in the VA long-term care facilities along with VA health care personnel.

Now, more COVID-19 mass vaccination clinics are underway at the Portland and Vancouver VA to take care of veterans who are high risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

The VA has already vaccinated all of their veterans in the long-term care facilities and VA staff with both doses. The clinic in Vancouver is working to give up to 1,000 shots per day. The Portland location will follow suit. They hope to finish vaccinating all veterans with the next 2-3 months.

“I think it is very important. This pandemic has changed the way we live and this vaccine is the chance for people to get protected to stay safe and to return to some type of normalcy later on,” said Austyn Young, a registered nurse at the Vancouver VA.

VA Portland Health Care System
VA Portland Health Care System — Vancouver campus

They’re working to get veterans vaccinated as quickly as possible and hope to have all veterans vaccinated within two to three months. The VA team will be calling and emailing veterans who can come get a shot — and if you’re waiting for a call, they ask you to please not call them as it will only clog up phone lines.

If you are a veteran who has never utilized the VA before but are interested in getting vaccinated, you can register with your local VA online and be put on the list. It requires a digital copy or photo of veterans’ military service records, such as a DD-214.

Link to the Veterans Affairs Application

Veterans can also call the enrollment office at 503.273.5069 for more information.

Veterans who already got their first vaccine shot said the process was easy — and the shot itself only took a few seconds.

“I believe in getting it, just as well about getting the flu shot. Anything to get it and make sure people can survive and live get through this pandemic,” one Army veteran said. “Everybody needs to get it. If you have a doubt, get it. It’s what I did. I had no doubt about it.”

Another Army veteran agreed. “They say it’s good for us. That’s good enough for me, I have to trust the people who are talking to us about it. If any doctor says it’s OK, might as well do it.”

A veteran receives the COVID-19 vaccine at the Vancouver VA clinic, January 2021 (Courtesy: VA)

Korean and Vietnam veteran Ruben Frisbie sat at the Vancouver VA on Monday morning, anxiously awaiting his vaccine. He says he’s spent so much time at home, he’s looking forward to seeing loved ones again.

“I’ve got family and friends that I worry about because they have underlying health conditions,” he said. “I just want to do my part ending this virus.”

Likewise, Vietnam vet Gary Ortner says his doctor and the VA answered all his questions and concerns about getting the shot — so this day is more than welcome.

“So I feel real comfortable about getting it and I think all the vets should think about it and consider doing it — I’m happy with all my fellow vets here.”