Crist Veterans Vaccine Push Headed to President’s Desk

Washington, DC – U.S. Representative Charlie Crist (D-FL) released a statement announcing that legislation to expand coronavirus vaccine eligibility to all veterans is headed to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law.

H.R. 1276, the VA VACCINE Act of 2021, will expand VA COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to all veterans who want one. Right now, only veterans who currently receive care at the VA can get a VA vaccine, either because they have service-connected disability or they make below a certain income threshold. This leaves out millions of veterans, including seniors and those who are higher risk.  

Congressman Crist has championed vaccines for all veterans, 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 last month to expand eligibility to every veteran who has honorably served.

The news of expanded vaccine access for veterans also comes following Congressman Crist’s recent announcement of ‘Successful Shots’ – a five point plan to get Florida on track to ramp up vaccine administration, get shots out into the communities that need them most, and remove the red tape keeping many vulnerable Floridians from getting a shot. 

“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 Rep. Crist.

“But, 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. 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.”

The Senate amendment to the VA VACCINE Act of 2021 was agreed to under unanimous consent this afternoon. The bill now heads to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law. It would allow VA facilities with adequate supply to vaccinate all veterans regardless of whether or not they would normally qualify for VA care. H.R. 1276 directs FEMA and the CDC to provide more vaccines to the VA to account for the expanded eligibility and allows the VA to vaccinate recognized veteran caregivers who are likewise currently blocked from receiving the vaccine at the VA.

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