(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) At the Department of Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic, the VA’s health care system for Eastern Kansas wanted to reclaim some of the time veterans lost to the ongoing pandemic this year.
"We’re here to reclaim summer," Rudy Klopfer, CEO VA Eastern Kansas Healthcare System said.
Their goal was to vaccinate at least 200 local veterans against Covid-19.
The system decided on the St. Joseph location expecting a large turnout, Klopfer said they wanted a space that could also serve those in Northwest Missouri.
"We knew there were more [veterans looking for the vaccine], and we wanted to limit their travel." Klopfer said.
Nurses on staff made quick work of getting shots into arms, veterans took notice.
"They’re bending over backwards to get us squared away, and I sure appreciate that," said Jerry Coon, Air Force veteran said.
Nurses said this has been a hard year for veterans getting through life under quarantine and not being able to socialize with one another.
"Staying home is an issue," Kerry McDowell, a nurse said. "They need to be out and you know able to talk to people and talk to their friends and talk to their fellow veterans you know."
For the nurses themselves, the challenges of the pandemic have taken their toll,"
"I want to be able to hug them, that’s really hard." McDowell said. "You can’t even shake their hand when they come in."
Everyone hoping the more vaccinations get out in the community the sooner things will return to normal, veterans are remaining optimistic.
"I hope this is the right way to go," Coon said. "It appears to be."
The Eastern Kansas Veterans Healthcare System will be returning to the clinic in four weeks to give out their second dose.