HANNIBAL — Veterans in the Hannibal area can receive the one-dose Johnson and Johnson Covid-19 vaccine from 3:30-4:30 p.m. Friday, March 12, at American Legion Post 55, thanks to the Veteran Vaccine Clinic Bus Tour led by the Harry S. Truman VA Hospital.
Heather Brown, strategic partnership officer with the Harry S. Truman VA Hospital, said the plan to get vaccines to veterans in rural areas of the Show-Me State started with news the hospital would receive a supply of the one-dose Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine. Officials teamed up to determine how to get vaccines to as many veterans as possible in rural areas of the Show-Me State, regardless of their age. The bus tour will stop in communities throughout the region Friday, ending in Hannibal from 3:30-4:30 p.m., at American Legion Post 55 (Emmette J. Shields), 3819 Highway MM.
“Our goal at Truman VA is to truly reach every eligible need for VA care veteran and get this vaccine into their arms as soon as we can,” Brown said.
She expressed her thanks to community partners for working with Truman VA staff to reach out to local veterans and set up vaccination sites.
After officials determined area communities with dense populations of veterans, Brown said the concept of a one-day bus tour came to reality — she said the Johnson & Johnson vaccine doesn’t require complex mixtures or the level of refrigeration necessary for the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.
The tour will make its way through Centralia from 9-10 a.m. and Moberly from 11 a.m. to noon. The next stops will be from 1-1:30 p.m. at the City Building, 112 S. Main St. in Paris, Mo., then from 2:15-2:45 p.m. at the Monroe City United Methodist Church, 218 Catherine St. The final stop of the tour will be from 3:30-4:30 p.m. at American Legion Post 55 in Hannibal.
Jeffrey Hoelscher, public affair officer with Truman VA Hospital, said the hospital has been hosting vaccination clinics from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday since Dec. 21 at the hospital. The mobile clinic organized by Brown will expand those efforts.
“Most, if not all of us here at Truman VA have a personal connection to the Veterans we serve, either through our own military experiences or through the service of a loved one ― or both,” Hoelscher said. “Currently, one of our most important health missions is to vaccinate as many eligible Veterans as possible against COVID-19. A COVID vaccination offers the best protection against this potentially deadly disease and a return to a mask-free life that doesn’t require social distancing. It is an honor to be part of the solution to this global health crisis.”
Brown said the vaccine is open to any veteran who is eligible to receive VA care. Veterans can determine eligibility, sign up for care and set up appointments by calling the admissions and eligibility phone line at 573-814-6535.
Hoelscher said the clinic will be a way to give back to each veteran who answered the call to serve their country.
“I am proud that I served my country and that now I’m able to serve veterans. It’s been a difficult year. However, we finally can see light at the end of the tunnel,” he said. “That light is vaccine, and with it, a way back to our lives.”