Legislation pushed by U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist to expand coronavirus vaccine eligibility to all veterans is now on its way to President Joe Biden’s desk to be signed into law after passing in a unanimous Senate vote.
The proposal (H.R. 1276), called the Veteran Affairs Vaccine Act of 2021, will expand VA COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to all veterans who want one.
Currently, only veterans who receive care at the VA can get a vaccine there, either because they have service-connected disability or they make below a certain income threshold — leaving out millions of veterans, including seniors and those who are higher risk.
“When it comes to getting COVID vaccine shots into the arms of veterans, no one should be turned away. Period. This virus isn’t discriminating against our vets, so why should the VA,” said Crist in a statement.
The Congressman has been pushing to expand vaccine access for veterans, previously calling for the VA to stop turning away veterans who would otherwise qualify for the COVID-19 vaccine. Crist introduced the Vaccine for Veterans Act in February to expand eligibility to every veteran who has served, a facet of the legislation headed to Biden’s desk.
Under the Veteran Affairs Vaccine Act of 2021, vaccines can be administered “to all veterans, veteran spouses, caregivers, and Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA) recipients to the extent that such vaccines are available.”
The news of the progression of the legislation follows Crist’s recent push for his ‘Successful Shots’ plan to improve Florida’s vaccine administration.
“Quite frankly, veterans aren’t the only Floridians in a sore spot because of vaccine issues. Now that Congress is doing right by our vets, it’s time for Tallahassee to get it together,” Crist said in a statement. “My ‘Successful Shots’ plan will ramp up vaccines for all Floridians, get shots into more arms of vulnerable folks, and bring the transparency, clarity, and communication that has been lacking in Florida’s vaccine efforts.”