COVID-19 Vaccines - VA North Texas Health Care System
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VA North Texas Health Care System

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COVID-19 Vaccines

VA is providing the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccines, as authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Supply varies by facility.

VA is resuming offering the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) COVID-19 vaccine to individuals 18 years and older. This is in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidance, following a 10-day pause recommended by the CDC and FDA after a very small number of people who received the vaccine experienced rare but serious blood clots. After careful review and evaluation, the FDA and CDC have confidence that this vaccine is safe for use and effective in preventing COVID-19. The available data show that the vaccine's benefits outweigh its risks and the chance of blood clots occurring following its administration is very low.

Anyone who is offered the J&J vaccine from VA will receive information about the potential risks and benefits of the vaccine, including the rare risk of blood clots and will be made aware of alternative vaccine options. The primary goal of COVID-19 vaccination is to protect those we serve from COVID-19, and VA's priority remains the safety of all those receiving vaccine from VA, including Veterans, their spouses, caregivers, employees and federal partners. For more information about COVID-19 vaccines at VA, visit www.va.gov/covidvaccine/.

Congress has passed a new law that allows us to offer COVID-19 vaccines to more people. VA is now able to offer vaccine to the following groups who are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine at VA when their local VA facilities have enough vaccine:

  • Veterans
  • Spouse of a Veteran
  • Caregivers of a Veteran
  • Recipients of Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA) benefits

The best way to stay informed is to sign up to tell us you'd like to get a COVID-19 vaccine at VA. Your local VA facility will then contact you when they have a vaccine for you.

For your continued health and safety during this pandemic, please don't come to a VA health facility to request a COVID-19 vaccine without an appointment unless you are coming to a specific scheduled event such as a walk-in clinic or drive-through clinic that does not require an appointment.

Note: Your employer, pharmacy, or local public health officials may offer you a COVID-19 vaccine. We encourage you to take the first opportunity you have to get a vaccine at the most convenient location for you.


COVID-19 Vaccine Availability

We encourage our Veterans to take the first opportunity they have to get a vaccine at the most convenient location for them, which may be from their employer, pharmacy, or local public health officials.

VA North Texas Health Care System is now offering COVID-19 vaccinations to all Veterans, caregivers, spouses and CHAMPVA beneficiaries under the SAVE LIVES Act. All non-registered Veterans, spouses and caregivers can now go online and register to receive the COVID-19 Vaccine by visiting “Sign up to get a COVID-19 Vaccine.”

After registration, Veterans will be contacted within a week via text message for scheduling. Veterans may also call our COVID scheduling line at 214-857-4791 to make an appointment.

Dallas VA Medical Center is now scheduling appointments for the COVID-19 Vaccine:

  • Registered Veterans can schedule an appointment in Dallas by calling 214-857-4791Monday-Friday 8 AM to 4 PM. Veterans can also request an appointment online through MyHealtheVet by sending a Secure Message to the “NTX COVID VACCINE SCHEDULING REQUEST” team.
  • Upcoming Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) Vaccination event: Saturday May 8th, from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm at the Dallas VAMC. This will be for all Veterans, employees, spouses and caregivers, to include employee’s family members. NOTE: This event will be for those that are 18 years or older.

Fort Worth Outpatient Clinic is offering a COVID-19 Vaccine by appointment only for 1st  and 2nd dose of Moderna. Veterans must register by calling 817-730-0000.




Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ's

UPDATE:

VA will resume offering the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) COVID-19 vaccine to individuals 18 years and older, in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidance, following a 10-day pause recommended by the CDC and FDA after a very small number of people who received the vaccine experienced rare but serious blood clots. After careful review and evaluation, the FDA and CDC have confidence that this vaccine is safe for use and effective in preventing COVID-19.

The available data show that the vaccine’s benefits outweigh its risks and the chance of blood clots occurring following its administration is very low. Anyone who is offered the J&J vaccine from VA will receive information about the potential risks and benefits of the vaccine, including the rare risk of blood clots and will be made aware of alternative vaccine options.


Why has the VA paused the used of the Janssen (Johnson and Johnson) COVID-19 vaccine?

On April 13, 2021, CDC and FDA recommended pausing use of the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine while they investigate reports of rare and serious blood clots called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) in vaccine recipients: https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2021/s0413-JJ-vaccine.html.   

Out of an abundance of caution, VA has paused the used of this vaccine.

 

Why did the CDC and FDA make this recommendation?

The CDC and FDA closely watch all new vaccines for side effects.  When serious side effects are reported by patients and health care providers, the CDC and FDA look closer to see if the side effected is related to taking the vaccine. Currently, CDC and FDA are reviewing data involving six reported U.S. cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot in individuals after receiving the J&J vaccine. In these cases, a type of blood clot called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) was seen in combination with low levels of blood platelets (thrombocytopenia).

All six cases occurred among women between the ages of 18 and 48, and symptoms occurred 6 to 13 days after vaccination. Treatment of this specific type of blood clot is different from the treatment that might typically be administered. Usually, an anticoagulant drug called heparin is used to treat blood clots. In this setting, administration of heparin may be dangerous, and alternative treatments need to be given.

 

How many people have been given the Janssen (Johnson and Johnson) COVID-19 vaccine in the US and at the VA?

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the United States, as of April 12, more than 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen ) vaccine have been administered in the U.S.

As of April 13, 2021, just over 100,000 persons had been given the Janssen vaccine from VA. https://www.accesstocare.va.gov/Healthcare/COVID19NationalSummary. There have not been events of CVST reported in patients vaccinated with Janssen vaccine by VA at this time, and further review is ongoing.

 

Has the VA seen any cases of CVST?

CVST has not been reported in patients vaccinated with the Janssen (Johnson and Johnson) COVID-19 vaccine by VA at this time.

What is CVST?

CVST, or Cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, happens when blood clot forms in the brain’s venous sinuses (type of blood vessel). This can cause symptoms including headache, vision changes, or symptoms of a stroke.

What are symptoms of CVST?

CVST may be suspected in patients who present with:

  • New onset headache
  • Headache that is different from the usual symptoms (for example, change in character or severity, and may occur 7 or more days after vaccine)
  • Encephalopathy (acting confused or not like one usually acts)
  • Signs or symptoms of intracranial hypertension (severe headache, visual changes)
  • Focal neurologic symptoms and signs, or neurologic symptoms involving multiple vascular territories (like weakness, trouble speaking, or seizures)

Diagnosis of CVST is via urgent neuroimaging with brain MRI and magnetic resonance (MR) venography, or with cranial CT with CT venography if MRI is not an option.

 

What should I do if I have symptoms of CVST?

Contact your health care provider if you have symptoms.

If your symptoms are severe, call 911.


How many people have been given the Janssen vaccine from VA?

As of April 13, 2021, just over 100,000 persons had been given the Janssen vaccine from VA.

This information is publicly reported here: https://www.accesstocare.va.gov/Healthcare/COVID19NationalSummary.

There have not been events of CVST reported in patients vaccinated with Janssen vaccine by VA at this time, and further review is ongoing.

 

Can non-Veterans and Veterans covered under the Save Lives Act receive health care from VA for a side effect experienced after a COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes.

I received the Janssen (Johnson and Johnson) COVID-19 vaccine and am now worried.  What do I need to know?

CVST events have been very rare. The CDC and FDA have been actively monitoring for possible reactions related to COVID-19 vaccines, and reported 6 cases in 6,800,000 doses. The events that did occur were in the first two weeks after receiving the Janssen (Johnson and Johnson) COVID-19 vaccine so persons who received the vaccine more than two weeks ago would be considered even less likely to have this happen. If you received the vaccine in the last 2 weeks and think you may have symptoms of CVST [listed above] please contact your health care team or call 9-1-1 if symptoms are severe.

Will I still be able to get a COVID-19 vaccine from VA?

There two other COVID-19 vaccines that are still available at VA.  VA will offer these vaccines as a temporary replacement for the Janssen (Johnson and Johnson) COVID-19 vaccine until more is known about the safety of the Janssen vaccine.

I really wanted to get the Janssen (Johnson and Johnson) COVID-19 vaccine from VA

We understand that changing from a single dose to a two-dose vaccine may affect your plans significantly. However, we are highly committed to the stringent safety measures in place for COVID-19 vaccines under emergency use authorization.

VA will continue to carefully follow the FDA and CDC for guidance on the safety of all COVID-19 vaccines.  The FDA and CDC review may find that the cases of CVST are linked to the vaccine or that they are not.  VA will restart using the Janssen (Johnson and Johnson) COVID-19 vaccine if the FDA and CDC recommends the vaccine for use after their review.

Are there other symptoms that I should contact my health care team about?

Any potential significant side effect to any COVID-19 vaccine should be reported to your health care team. This is important for your health and is also critical for ongoing safety monitoring of the COVID-19 vaccines under emergency use authorization.

  • Cases of unusual blood clots with low platelets have occurred in people who received the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine. Similar cases were seen in another type of COVID-19 vaccine not in use in the United States.
  • The chance of having this occur is very low, but being aware of symptoms can help you get prompt medical treatment and avoid complications.
  • You should seek urgent medical attention immediately if you have any of the following symptoms in the weeks following your Janssen COVID-19 vaccine:
    • shortness of breath
    • chest pain
    • leg swelling
    • persistent abdominal (belly) pain
    • neurological symptoms, such as severe and/or persistent headaches or blurred vision
    • tiny blood spots under the skin beyond the site of the injection.
  • Speak to your healthcare professional if you have any questions about new symptoms or about the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine.


Have similar events been seen with the other COVID-19 vaccines VA is using?

CVST has not been observed in the other vaccines in use in the United States, namely the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. Both of those vaccines are mRNA vaccines, which is a different type of vaccine than the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine.

Have similar events been seen with any other COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes, the combination of CVST and low platelets has been observed with the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, which is not currently authorized for use in the United States. The following link is a press release regarding events that occurred in recipients of the AstraZeneca vaccine. While this is a different vaccine from the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine, both are vaccines of the same type (adenovirus viral vector vaccines) https://www.ema.europa.eu/en/news/astrazenecas-covid-19-vaccine-ema-finds-possible-link-very-rare-cases-unusual-blood-clots-low-blood

For the AstraZeneca vaccine, out of 25 million people who received vaccine, there were 62 cases of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) and 24 cases of splanchnic vein thrombosis (clot in a vein that helps drain the digestive system). These cases were reported to the safety reporting systems in the EEA and UK.

Should I avoid taking any COVID-19 vaccine for now?

No. Currently, reported events from the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine are rare. Similar events have not been reported with the other FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines, which have been safely administered to millions of people in the United States. The pause in use of the Janssen vaccine is a good example of the intensive safety monitoring and proactive intervention from CDC and FDA.



COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ's

Is it possible to get COVID-19 from the vaccine?

No. Currently authorized COVID-19 vaccines, as well as those in development, use inactivated virus, pieces of the virus, or a gene from the virus. None of these can cause COVID-19.

Who will be offered the COVID-19 vaccine while supplies are limited?

Working with the CDC and other federal partners, VA developed a phased plan to benefit the most people. Under this phased plan, we’ll first offer vaccines to VA health care personnel and Veterans residing in Community Living Centers or in Spinal Cord Injuries and Disorder Centers. VA will offer vaccination to additional Veterans at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19 after health care personnel have been offered vaccine. Your facility will notify you when vaccine is available for you and provide information on how to schedule a vaccination.


How will I be notified when I can get the vaccine?


We will first offer vaccine to Veterans residing in Community Living Centers or receiving treatment at Spinal Cord Injuries and Disorder Centers. We will offer vaccine to additional Veterans at high risk of severe disease from COVID-19 after all health care personnel have been offered vaccine. During this period of limited vaccine supply of vaccine, if your care team determines that you are eligible to receive the vaccine, you will be contacted directly by phone/mail/email when vaccine is available.

Do I need to pre-register to get the vaccine?

No. Veterans do not have to pre-register to receive the vaccine. Staff will reach out to high-risk Veterans to discuss the vaccine, ask about their interest in receiving the vaccine and let Veterans how they can schedule an appointment to be vaccinated, if desired. VA’s ultimate goal is to offer a COVID-19 vaccine to all Veterans enrolled in VA health care who want one. Check out the VA website Vaccine Hub for updates as to when vaccine will be available at other VA medical centers.


Which VA facilities have the first COVID-19 vaccine?

The COVID-19 Vaccine is now available at the Dallas VA Medical Center, Sam Rayburn Memorial Memorial Veterans Center and Ft. Worth Outpatient Clinic. We expect the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine to be authorized and available in March. The Moderna and Pfizer Vaccines are currently being administered at the above mentioned medical centers.

Fort Worth OPC is temporarily offering a Drive-Thru COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic by appointment only for 1st/2nd dose of Moderna. Patients must register by calling 817-730-0000.



COVID-19 Vaccine Myths

FACT: COVID-19 vaccines will not give you COVID-19

None of the COVID-19 vaccines currently in development in the United States use the live virus that causes COVID-19. There are several different types of vaccines in development. However, the goal for each of them is to teach our immune systems how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19. Sometimes this process can cause symptoms, such as fever. These symptoms are normal and are a sign that the body is building immunity. Learn more about how COVID-19 vaccines work. It typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity after vaccination. That means it’s possible a person could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination and get sick. This is because the vaccine has not had enough time to provide protection.

FACT: COVID-19 vaccines will not cause you to test positive on COVID-19 viral tests

Vaccines currently in clinical trials in the United States won’t cause you to test positive on viral tests, which are used to see if you have a current infection.
If your body develops an immune response, which is the goal of vaccination, there is a possibility you may test positive on some antibody tests. Antibody tests indicate you had a previous infection and that you may have some level of protection against the virus. Experts are currently looking at how COVID-19 vaccination may affect antibody testing results.

FACT: People who have gotten sick with COVID-19 may still benefit from getting vaccinated

Due to the severe health risks associated with COVID-19 and the fact that re-infection with COVID-19 is possible, people may be advised to get a COVID-19 vaccine even if they have been sick with COVID-19 before.

At this time, experts do not know how long someone is protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. The immunity someone gains from having an infection, called natural immunity, varies from person to person. Some early evidence suggests natural immunity may not last very long. Both natural immunity and vaccine-induced immunity are important aspects of COVID-19 that experts are trying to learn more about, and CDC will keep the public informed as new evidence becomes available.

FACT: Getting vaccinated can help prevent getting sick with COVID-19

While many people with COVID-19 have only a mild illness, others may get a severe illness or they may even die. There is no way to know how COVID-19 will affect you, even if you are not at increased risk of severe complications. If you get sick, you also may spread the disease to friends, family, and others around you while you are sick. COVID-19 vaccination helps protect you by creating an antibody response without having to experience sickness. Learn more about how COVID-19 vaccines work.

FACT: Receiving an mRNA vaccine will not alter your DNA

mRNA stands for messenger ribonucleic acid and can most easily be described as instructions for how to make a protein or even just a piece of a protein. mRNA is not able to alter or modify a person’s genetic makeup (DNA). The mRNA from a COVID-19 vaccine never enter the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA are kept. This means the mRNA does not affect or interact with our DNA in any way. Instead, COVID-19 vaccines that use mRNA work with the body’s natural defenses to safely develop protection (immunity) to disease. Learn more about how COVID-19 mRNA vaccines work.

Contact Info

Location

  • Dallas VA Medical Center
    Ft. Worth Outpatient Clinic

Contact Number(s)

  • 214-857-4791
  • 817-730-0000

Hours of Operation

  • By Appointment Only
    By Appointment Only