Veterans vaccinations

RONALD DOSTAL, a veteran from Howells, receives his second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine from Jill Frank, a veterans affairs registered nurse, at an outpatient clinic in the Nebraska Army National Guard in Norfolk. Dostal is just one of almost 600 veterans who received their second dose of the vaccine on Wednesday.

Almost 600 local veterans received their second COVID-19 vaccination during an outpatient clinic Wednesday at the Nebraska Army National Guard in Norfolk.

The clinic was one of seven other locations where veterans were able to receive doses as part of the Veterans Affairs Nebraska-Western Iowa Health Care System.

The organization hosted a clinic at the National Guard facility three weeks ago to hand out the first dose of the vaccine. Katie Rasmussen, nurse manager of the outpatient clinic, said another clinic to administer more vaccines would be coming in April, with registration starting mid-March.

“Even with the first time around, everybody showed up at once and all of the staff and volunteers were great,” Rasmussen said. “The American Legion Riders showed up to help out and so did Christ Lutheran Church. This time it’s been very steady all day long and very manageable. It’s been great.”

Ronald Dostal, a Howells native, received his second dose of the vaccine at the outpatient clinic Wednesday. He became infected with the virus in August and lost his sense of smell and taste for two months.

Dostal said getting vaccinated is worth it — the only symptom he felt after the first dose was fatigue for two days.

“It was very important to get vaccinated. I have a friend who got it and said, ‘I was never so sick in my life’,” Dostal said. “They really get us going through here fast.”

Vaccinations at the outpatient clinics are available to any eligible veteran age 60 years and older. There’s no need to register with the health department or state’s registration website because the doses come from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Eligible veterans may visit https://www.va.gov/health-care/covid-19-vaccine/stay-informed to learn more about how to receive a COVID-19 vaccine at one of the outpatient clinics.

Julia Berry, an Omaha veterans affairs registered nurse, said one of the biggest challenges is recruiting veterans to sign up for an appointment and getting them to the clinic, which is different from their regular doctor because it’s a mass vaccination site.

Berry said each outpatient clinic takes one to two weeks to set up. Staff members prepare the site the night before and arrive at 6:30 a.m. to get ready for the constant stream of vaccinations.

“The first time we came through, we had 12 inches of snow and this time it was -30 degrees. Luckily it was warmer today,” Berry said. “The community is loving it, they are really excited to see us and they are happy to be a part of making history.”

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Want to learn more?

Veterans who are interested in receiving care from Veterans Affairs but are not yet enrolled are encouraged to visit www.va.gov/health-care/how-to-apply/.

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