Senator visits VA in Leavenworth

John Richmeier
The Leavenworth Times
U.S. Sen. Roger Marshall, right, holds a display of handwritten messages from veterans regarding why they have received COVID-19 vaccines. Marshall visited the Eisenhower VA Medical Center on Friday. Also pictured is Rudy Klopfer, director and CEO of the VA Eastern Kansas Health Care System.

During a visit to the Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Leavenworth, U.S. Sen. Roger Marshall said Friday he wanted to highlight the importance of veterans getting vaccinated for COVID-19.

Marshall, a Republican from Kansas, said the Eisenhower VA Medical Center is doing a great job of administering the COVD-19 vaccines it receives.

Rudy Klopfer, director and CEO of the VA Eastern Kansas Health Care System, said the system has administered more than 17,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines.

And about 8,000 veterans have been fully vaccinated through the VA Eastern Kansas Health Care System, according to Joseph Burks, public affairs officer for the system.

The VA Eastern Kansas Health Care System includes the VA hospitals in Leavenworth and Topeka as well as several outpatient clinics in Kansas and Missouri.

“If we had more supply, we would do more,” Klopfer said.

Two of the three COVID-19 vaccines that have been authorized for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration require two doses. These two vaccines are produced by Pfizer or Moderna.

Marshall, who is a physician, has argued that the first doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are pretty effective even without the second shot. And he has suggested more people could be saved from COVID-19 by giving one shot of a vaccine to as many people as possible instead of giving a more limited number of people two doses.

Marshall said he wants Congress to give the FDA the ability to consider such a proposal.

“I want to empower the FDA to have that option,” he said.

However, Marshall said he does not want to discourage people who already have received one dose from getting a second shot.

“If you’ve had your first shot, please go get your second shot,” he said.

While in Leavenworth, Marshall also visited the Leavenworth County Health Department.

Twitter: @LVTNewsJohnR

While visiting Leavenworth, U.S. Sen. Roger Marshall toured the Leavenworth County Health Department on Friday and received an update from County Health Officer Jamie Miller about efforts to administer a COVID-19 vaccine. Pictured are County Commission Chairman Mike Smith, County Administrator Mark Loughry, Marshall and Miller.