By Howard Monroe

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Veterans who receive care at Veterans Affairs got their chance to get the COVID-19 vaccine on Saturday. This took place at the Corporal Michael J. Crescenz VA Medical Center.

“I’m able to go to church, I’m able to just live a normal life now,” Anthony Brunswick said.

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Brunswick’s shot at life thanks to a shot in the arm. Brunswick, a Navy veteran, got his first dose of the COVID vaccine Saturday morning.

“I’d like to see my grandchildren, so when I get this done, I’m able to go to Virginia to see them,” Brunswick said.

“This is just the next step of real joy and hope to be able to vaccinate our veterans,” Karen Flaherty-Oxler, the director of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, said.

This was the Veterans Affairs’ first mass vaccination held at its medical center in University City. Veterans over the age of 75 and those with chronic conditions were able to take part.

“We already have an at-risk population of our veterans and it’s an underrepresented and underserved population as well and so they are particularly at risk in this pandemic,” Dr. Matt Garin with the Department of Veterans Affairs said.

The Philadelphia VA cares for nearly 70,000 veterans who served, dating back to World War II.

Throughout the pandemic, they’ve been testing and caring for veterans and their spouses. With Saturday’s event and prior vaccinations, they’ve administered 2,500 doses.

“To be able to provide this support and to be able to get our veterans vaccinated, to keep them safe, to help them be able to see their loved ones and we’re all really hopeful that this is the end of this pandemic and this is the start of this process,” Garin said.

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The VA will be holding another mass vaccination clinic next Saturday in Runnemede, New Jersey.

Meanwhile, there is some confusion over the coronavirus vaccine with some officials saying there are not enough doses for even the first people who were eligible.

Among the issues people are facing, websites to register are bogged down. Other problems include people skirting the system and registering out of line.

Officials say it could take until the summer before everyone who wants a vaccine can get one.

In Philadelphia, residents who are interested in receiving the COVID-19 vaccine can now pre-register on a city-run website.


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