Kalispell-Area Veterans and Staff to Receive Their First COVID-19 Vaccines on Wednesday Following Tester Efforts

Senator secured funding in CARES Act for vaccine development and pushed Administration to protect veterans and VA staff in rural areas across Montana

The Montana VA Health Care System is set to receive 400 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and plans to vaccinate Kalispell veterans and staff this Wednesday, February 3, after sustained efforts from Senator Jon Tester to protect rural veterans during the ongoing pandemic.

“This is a great day for Montana’s veterans who are now one step closer to being protected from the coronavirus,” said Tester, Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “I’m proud to have worked with folks on the ground and in the Administration to ensure this first round of vaccines reaches veterans in Kalispell and other rural areas across the state. I’ll continue holding VA accountable to smoothly deliver this vaccine to communities in need and into the arms of those who’ve served.”

Kalispell is the second area in Montana chosen to lead a national Veterans Health Administration (VHA) pilot program to bring vaccines to rural veterans. Last month, Tester announced that Havre was the first location to receive 240 vaccines to ensure enrolled veterans are immunized. Hundreds of vaccines are expected to be administered to eligible veterans in Fort Harrison, Miles City, and Great Falls in the coming weeks.

Vaccinations are available by appointment only for eligible and enrolled veterans. High risk veterans-veterans identified as persons 75 years or older or with a medical condition that may put them at increased risk based on CDC risk criteria and VHA guidance-will be called first to schedule vaccine appointments. If a Montana veteran is not enrolled in VHA health care, they are encouraged to call (877) 468-8387 and select Option 4 to find out if they are eligible.

Tester fought tirelessly to secure $11 billion as a part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to support the development of a COVID-19 vaccine, including $156 million for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease to accelerate research and development of treatment and vaccines. As the top Democrat on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, he also secured $19.6 billion to strengthen VA’s response to the outbreak-including key provisions to keep veterans and staff safe from the virus.