Some veterans hospitals are already offering the COVID vaccine to all veterans

I was surprised to get an email yesterday saying that the Northern California veterans hospitals are now offering the COVID vaccine to all veterans, regardless of age. I had not expected that I would be eligible for a vaccine so soon. I verified the information on their website before making an appointment because I thought there may have been a mistake. Are there any other places where vaccines have been offered to all within the applicable population this soon? It seems like everywhere I’ve looked, they are still only offering to seniors, those with essential jobs, and those with high risks.

Alaska just announced that all adults can now be vaccinated. I don’t know of anywhere else.

This is unconfirmed but I’ve heard from an employee that a certain very recognizable tech company has ‘acquired’ a large stock of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines and is planning to offer vaccination to all employees and their families; corruption in plain sight. It is nice to be well-connected, I guess.

I also have a friend who doesn’t fall into any vulnerable categories who was recently in Texas to get his mother vaccinated and was offered a ‘spare’ vaccine, apparently because enough people weren’t showing up to be able to use a batch that had been removed from cold storage in time to use it all up before spoilage. I mean, I’m glad that they aren’t wasting vaccines and that he got vaccinated, but it illustrates just how monumentally fucked up handing vaccine distribution to the states and counties has been.


I’m not going to try to defend the vaccine roll-out overall, but I don’t think this specific incident is necessarily the result of “fucked up…vaccine distribution”, particularly if the Pfizer vaccine was the one involved. It has to be stored at ultra-cold temperatures, which is difficult to manage. Then it has to be thawed, which takes time, so you have to start thawing it well before you use it, probably before the intended recipient is even on site. And it comes in multi-dose vials (I think 5), and you can’t thaw only part of the vial, so you have to thaw the doses in multiples of 5. Once you start thawing them, you can’t freeze them again. And once they’re thawed, you only have two hours to use them before they start losing potency. No matter how well managed the distribution and scheduling are, all it takes is one intended recipient flaking out, and now you’ve got an extra dose that has to be used now or it will be wasted. I just don’t think there’s any practical distribution scheme where you’re not going to have mismatches between thawed doses that need to be used now and scheduled recipients on-site and ready to receive the dose now.

Which is not to say that the way the vaccine has been rolled out hasn’t exacerbated all of this. Appointments around where I live have been hard to come by and technically difficult to schedule, and are completely uncoordinated between now four different organizations, so some people have been making multiple appointments just to try to ensure one will come through. There’s actually no way to cancel an appointment with the two biggest organizations, so that alone results in a number of no-shows at every clinic as at least a few scheduled recipients have already gotten their vaccine from another source and not bothered or not actually been able to cancel.

To be clear, I’m totally in favor of getting vaccines into arms and not wasting any opportunity for vaccination regardless of where a person falls into the vulnerability scale because the only way to “herd immunity” is by comprehensive vaccination. But the fact that certain government officials have promulgated the notion that vaccination isn’t really necessary, the lack of organization and clear guidelines for vaccination schedules, and general lack of accountability has turned what should have been a logistically challenging but straightforward exercise in public health into a mad scramble to find, access, and get vaccines. It would have ultimately been easier and fairer to just vaccinate all medical personnel, health care, and first responders and then just do a birthday lottery system for everyone else than what we have gotten. Even California, which has a large and well-funded state health department decided to shove the responsibility for vaccination down to the counties which are poorly constituted and prepared for such an exercise, and then all of the fingerpointing over who did or did not get the recorded vaccine deliveries and getting them into arms, as if boxes of vaccines are just somehow falling off the back of a truck.

As for veterans, if the VA is getting vaccines for all of the veteran clients, then more power to them. We certainly do little enough to recognize and help veterans with the many maladies and mental health issues many get during deployment and service, and many of them have unrecognized pre-existing conditions anyway, so I have zero problems with veterans getting ahead of the line (provided that medical personnel and first responders are getting first access, of course).


I agree with a lot of that. But. I just don’t think that the fact that your friend got a “bonus” vaccine because they were trying to use up the thawed doses is necessarily an illustration of “just how monumentally fucked up handing vaccine distribution to the states and counties have been.” Again, just due to the inherent difficulties with the Pfizer vaccine in particular, I just don’t think that there is any practical distribution system that wouldn’t at least occasionally result in a mismatch between thawed doses and available arms. Some degree of “stand-by” vaccinations and wastage is inevitable.

I just checked the VA website. There are only two little conditions to meet to get the vaccine there:

  1. You have to already be a patient of theirs and
  2. you have to be 75 years old.
    This is stricter that just about any state requirement. In Oregon, it doesn’t matter where you get your medical care, and the minimum age is 65, so the VA isn’t really a great deal as far as I am concerned.

That’s good to hear about Alaska. I’m looking forward to the day when everybody in every state is able to get a vaccine.

It’s interesting that the Northern California VA is opening up vaccines for all veterans before the rest of the VA. That’s one of the reasons that I double-checked that I had the right information before making an appointment.

Not that I begrudge anyone getting the vaccine, but how did the VA (and Alaska) get those doses? I would have thought that all doses would be metered out in such a way to give them to lower-priority groups only after higher-priority groups were done (at least, done for anyone who wants them). I could see there being some slight glitches in that schedule, due to the demographics being served by various distributors having different rates of opting out or the like, but one distributor going straight to “everyone” when other are still at “60 and older” sounds like they were allocated way too many doses.

The problem is that it isn’t just an “occasional” result; they indicated that they were having to dump large quantities of vaccine because not enough people were showing up to use what they’d been delivered for the day. This was at a commercial chain pharmacy with signs outside reading “Vaccines Here!” and vaccine compliance rates in <40% of the eligible population. Part of the problem is a reservation system that was convoluted, but my friend showed up with his mother and they registered him for a spare vaccine later in the day (within an hour of expiration). That is a systemic problem, both with under vaccination and wastage of vaccines.

As for Los Angeles County and neglecting vulnerable and underserved communities:


Again, I don’t really want to defend the vaccine roll-out, but…

50 state health departments. 3,000 county health departments. The VA. The U.S. Public Health Service. The Indian Health Service. CVS. Walgreens. Thousands upon thousands of hospitals, clinics, and healthcare networks. There are lot of organizations administering vaccines. They have wildly varying logistics and administrative capabilities, and service wildly varying populations. Combine that with vaccines that are difficult to transport and store, and I don’t know how you realistically avoid some organizations being different phases than others.

Any doses the VA can give out lowers the pressure on the whole community. The logistics chain stays within the feds, and I’m guessing, but it would seem to make it more efficient for the backend payment and paperwork tracking.

I don’t know if now is the time, but the idea seems solid. Take a large chunk of the population and have it all federal, top to bottom.

Sure, and I’m not arguing that the distribution system isn’t “fucked up”. I just meant that the fact that your friend got a “spare” vaccine is not, by itself, a particularly good illustration of a “fucked up” distribution system.

The VA in the state of Washington has opened up eligibility to all ages.

It appears that in the last few days there has been a large increase in vaccines in the state. Last week you had to spend hours searching for appointments. Now they are everywhere. Every Safeway, Rite-Aid, Target, and Costco, has many open slots. And even the large hospitals (Kaiser, Provident, and University of Washington) had stopped making appointments for more than a month now have many openings for appointments. I think the floodgates have opened.

I’m just glad I live in a state where people are happy to get the vaccine.

I’ve had the VA medical arm offer me the vaccine twice, once during a face-to-face visit, and once when they called me specifically (sometime within the past week or ten days) to schedule a vaccine appointment. I am 60, for purposes of comparison. Both times I declined, citing my desire to get the whole household (3 adults) vaccinated at the same time, which I hope will happen in April through a nearby military medical clinic.

Was that a choice any of you might have made, or am I being foolish to put it off? My family/household are all very much hermits, such that the pandemic has made almost no impact on our getting-out-of-the-house schedule. I figure it’s not really urgent for us, but maybe I should rethink that.

The more people that are vaccine, the less opportunity for the virus to spread and mutate into new variants. You getting vaccinated will not affect the ability for other members of your household to get a vaccine when they are eligible, and just may prevent the household from getting infected (even though vaccines do not appear to provide sterilizing immunity if your body doesn’t produce much virus it may still reduce the the chance of contagion should you become infected). You are an adult and free to make your own chances, but as Dr. Daniel Griffin says on the TWIV podcast, “Never miss a chance to vaccinate.”


Got mine from the VA in Wyoming. First shot was Jan 25, 2nd was Feb 23rd. I’m age 68 with no significant underlying conditions.

The VA in Louisiana did the exact same thing early last week.

On March 9th Louisiana threw open the doors to a large majority of all adults – anyone 16 years of age or older with BMIs over 25 now qualify. Few people with BMIs of 25 are visibly overweight – that’s like a fit adult man putting on 15-20 pounds.