210 Billings Area Veterans and Staff to Receive First COVID-19 Vaccines Today Following Tester Efforts210 Billings Area Veterans and Staff to Receive First COVID-19 Vaccines Today Following Tester Efforts

Senator secured funding in CARES Act for vaccine development and pushed

After sustained efforts from U.S. Senator Jon Tester, Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, the Montana VA Health Care System is set to receive COVID-19 vaccines today with 210 appointments for veterans and staff in Billings.

“This is a great day for Montana’s veterans who are now one step closer to being protected from the coronavirus,” said Chairman Tester. “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 Billings and rural areas across the state. I’ll continue holding the VA accountable to quickly and efficiently deliver this vaccine to more communities in need and into the arms of those who’ve served.”

“The system VA currently has in place for the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine is working spectacularly,” said Billings-area veteran Bob Scott. “I scheduled an appointment for a specific time and was quickly able to get in and out with my vaccine within an hour. I don’t see any reason why the second dose won’t run as smoothly as the first, as long as VA has the vaccines to do it. Senator Tester has done more for vets in the community than any other representative in Montana, having gone above and beyond in getting these vaccines into Billings and into other areas across the state.”

Tester has been fighting to ensure Montana’s veterans and VA staff-especially those in rural areas-get their fair share of the COVID-19 vaccine supply. Over the last month, he has announced vaccine distributions in six locations across Montana, with hundreds of vaccines expected to be administered to eligible veterans in other cities 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 Veterans Health Administration (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.