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Vaccination clinic poses issues, VA addresses

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Posted at 6:49 PM, Jan 17, 2021

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — The Lexington VA's vaccination clinic continued on Sunday.

During day one, more than 1,600 veterans were vaccinated. Despite that success, there were issues with the walk-in clinic.

First, they had to wait in bumper to bumper traffic. Then, stand in a long line.

Some veterans left after waiting for hours. Others were concerned about standing in line, in the cold, packed with others during a pandemic.

"There was no organization," said Douglas Lane, an Army veteran who drove to Lexington from Berry, Kentucky.

Lane says he was appalled at what he saw.

"Seeing some of the people that had hats on from the Korean War," Lane said. "That puts them at the late 80s, early 90s, standing out in the weather. They should have had a process where everyone was inside of the building."

Lane waited for four hours himself before he bailed. The process was taking so long because he needed to be in the Lexington VA's system. He was not, and was told signing up would take hours.

"I would never go back," Lane said. "I'll just wait until my family doctor gets the vaccine and I can go get my shot at the doctor's office."

Lexington veteran, Thomas Peters, told LEX 18 he tried to take his vision-impaired friend to get his shot, but turned and left when he was told it was a two-hour wait in line just to get in the parking garage.

"We were just sort of overwhelmed and disappointed that there wasn't a better process," said Peters.

As a former Air Force hospital administrator, he said it was great that the VA was able to administer 1,600 doses Saturday, but he thought the distribution method was flawed.

Peters believes an appointment based system is the way to go. In fact, it was the method that he used to get his own vaccination at the Lexington VA. He said it went incredibly well and that he was in and out within 20 minutes.

"An appointment process would not be too difficult," Peters said. "And once that was done, I feel that's better service for the patient but I also feel its better service for the staff."

The VA director, Gregory Goins, said they had only been able to get 400 appointments done per day, so the walk-in clinic was a way to get more people inoculated.

Many veterans LEX 18 spoke to applauded the process.

"Everybody was very nice chatting it up and everything else," John Yellman said. "VA did a wonderful job."

"It's very pleasant," another veteran, Cliff Adkins, said. "No more trouble than the flu vaccine."

Goins also said the VA adapted the process after seeing the issues yesterday. On Sunday, veterans could sit in their cars and wait to be called for their shot.

However, those who came by bus or walked still had to stand in line and wait their turn.

Goins added that it's been a balancing act to get as many people in as possible while doing so quickly and safely.

More than a thousand people were vaccinated Sunday.

The last day of the clinic is Monday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Overall, the local VA's goal is to get 60% of their enrolled population vaccinated within four months. That's more than 14,000 veterans.