The announcement came on Tuesday where the health care system already had a plan in place to immediately begin vaccinating veterans and staff.
"Today is really a red letter day to the fight for COVID," said Ruth Mustard, Associate Director of Patient Care in Nursing Services at Columbia VA. "We received our vaccine, our Moderna vaccine, our first shipment so we're very busy mobilizing the administration of that vaccine to our CLC (Community Living Center) residents and getting with our staff."
While 2020 has been a long year due to the pandemic, Mustard says they feel hopeful with having the vaccine finally at the Columbia VA.
"We really follow the CDC guidelines," explained Mustard. "Our highest priority is our Community Living Center residents which is our nursing home. So they will get vaccinated (Tuesday) afternoon. Then we have our staff who take care of them, our next highest priority."
Staff will be vaccinated Tuesday afternoon as well.
The Columbia VA will then move onto their high-risk frontline workers. After high-risk frontline workers get the vaccine, they'll look to vaccinate other employees and other veterans.
"This is just the first shipment of hopefully many more," said Mustard. "We plan to have enough vaccine for everyone and that's the plan for the country, but of course we will follow the priority, but we do expect future shipments for sure."
When they start vaccinating veterans, they'll begin with their highest risk folks, which include individuals over 85-years-old, and people with comorbid conditions.
Mustard is hopeful this vaccine will protect people.
"We know that it's 94 percent effective in preventing the disease, but we don't know exactly what the transmission is, so really everyone needs to still wear a mask, to do social distancing, all that kind of thing because we have a little bit yet to learn about the transmission piece of it and encourage everyone to do all of this during the holidays."
If a veteran would like to receive the vaccine, they can talk with their primary healthcare provider. The Columbia VA will be reaching out to veterans through social media, phone calls and other contact methods.