VA Bedford and Haverhill Veterans’ Services Administer COVID-19 Vaccine to 240 Veterans

Haverhill Fire Chief Robert M. O’Brien, Mayor James J. Fiorentini and Haverhill Veterans’ Service Officer Luis Santiago confer during the last COVID-19 vaccine clinic for veterans. (Mike Jarvis photograph for WHAV News.)

VA Bedford Healthcare System and the Haverhill Department of Veterans’ Services vaccinated 240 veterans during a clinic Sunday at Dr. Albert B. Consentino School in Haverhill.

Haverhill Veterans’ Service Officer Luis Santiago said administration of COVID-19 vaccines was a success because of the well-coordinated efforts of all, including Haverhill Police and Fire Department personnel.

The collaboration that I had with the Veterans, VA, Healthcare System was flawless. It was something that was working like clockwork. Individuals came in, got their vaccines and got to go home in an about 22-minute turnaround,” Santiago told WHAV.

Santiago said police directed the flow of individuals to parking and the entrance, while firefighters—certified as emergency medical technicians—ensured veterans had no adverse reactions to the shot and were able to return to their vehicles safely. He also thanked Consentino School Principal Richard Poor and Mayor James J. Fiorentini for their assistance. He reserved special praise for Covanta Manager Mark Van Weelden who made sure the 40 VA staff and volunteers were served hot meals.

“He provided a lunch, catered, to the staff and personnel involved with the clinic which was a nice gesture on his behalf and helped the individuals when they were actually administering the vaccine because it allowed them to keep their scheduled appointments on time,” he added.

Van Weelden said, “Covanta was pleased to hear about plans for the VA to hold local events to get shots into the arms of our treasured veterans. We thank all of those who are on the new front line in administering lifesaving vaccines every day.”

Santiago said the weather may have helped ensure that everyone scheduled to receive a vaccine kept their appointments.

Veteran Ralph T. Basiliere, who helped coordinate activities, noted a special meaning to the clinic. “After a year of tedious, defensive operations, it’s good to be on the attack,” he said.

Veterans were automatically schedule for second doses for Saturday, April 10, also at Consentino School.

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