ORLANDO, Fla. - Members of Congress from Florida are getting lots of calls from veterans complaining they’re being denied COVID-19 shots at VA clinics.
"Veterans are showing up expecting, listening to one set of guidelines to be able to get the vaccine and they’re being denied," Congressman Michael Waltz tells FOX 35 News.
He says it’s happening at veteran’s affairs clinics across the state. So, he and eight other members of Congress from the Sunshine State sent a letter addressing their concerns asking that restrictions be lifted to the acting secretary of veterans affairs, President Biden’s COVID-19 Response Leader and the COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force.
"These veterans, when they put their life on the line, regardless of war, term of service or how successful they’ve been since their time serving, deserve what they were promised, which is the full service of the VA and if vaccine shots are part of that, then it should be part of that."
Navy veteran, Joe Flammio, 78, was having issues getting signed up for a COVID-19 vaccine in Brevard County. When his cousin suggested he go to the VA, he gave it a shot.
"I went up, spent a couple of hours waiting, finally was brought into a cubicle. A nice young man spent about 20 minutes inputting all the information on my forms, pushed the buttons and then told me I was rejected because my income was higher than the prescribed amount for our area," Flammio said.
Congressman Waltz says that’s just one of the complaints he’s getting.
"From the calls that we’re receiving, it’s either that it’s a healthcare worker or they’re a certain age. One of the VA guidelines has income limits," Congressman Waltz said.
The VA released a statement saying in part, "Currently, the agency is focusing efforts of the allotment of vaccines we have received for enrolled, eligible veterans who are listed in our highest risk category. In addition, VA is working with the White House and FEMA to explore ways in which the VA can assist with the nation’s vaccination efforts to include covering veterans not currently enrolled for VA healthcare."
Congressman Waltz and Flammio say the feds need to act fast on this.
"COVID-19 doesn’t care if you’re making less than whatever it is, 50-60K a year or more than 600K a year. COVID-19 is COVID-19. It’s going to infect or affect anyone it can. So, I don’t think the VA should take it upon itself to do means-testing to administer COVID-19 vaccines," Flammio said.