Houston's DeBakey Medical Center among 37 VA hospitals to get 1st vaccine dosages

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Once the FDA approves emergency-use authorization of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine, Houston's VA hospital will be among 37 in the country to receive the first dosages.

The Department of Veterans Affairs made the announcement Thursday in the midst of an FDA panel voting to endorse the vaccine for the emergency-use designation.

Houston's Michael E. DeBakey VA Health Care System, Dallas' VA Medical Center and San Antonio's Audie L. Murphy VA Hospital were among the Texas VA facilities tapped to receive the vaccines.

SEE ALSO: Houston hospitals ready for thousands of vaccine doses for workers

The video above is from previous reporting detailing the Texas Medical Center's vaccine distribution plan. DeBakey VA Medical Center is in the heart of the TMC.

"The centers...were chosen for their ability to vaccinate large numbers of people and store the vaccines at extremely cold temperatures," the VA said in a statement.

According to the department, health care workers at the hospitals will be the first ones vaccinated, followed by veterans in the VA's long-term care facilities. As supplies increase, additional veterans will be inoculated "based on factors such as age, existing health problems and other considerations that increase the risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19," the VA added.

The veteran patients and VA hospital workers hold a sizable share of the coronavirus cases in the U.S. According to a VA dashboard, facilities counted nearly 130,000 cases over the course of the pandemic, as of Friday. The VA counted 5,542 deaths as a result of COVID-19.

The Houston area's VA facility surpassed 2,100 cases, including 79 deaths.

A full list of hospitals getting the initial vaccines can be found through the VA's website.
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