With the strong support of the Florida delegation, last week Congress passed the “VA VACCINE Act” from U.S. Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., which would allow “facilities with adequate vaccine supply to vaccinate all Veterans regardless of whether or not they would normally qualify for VA care” and allow “the VA to vaccinate recognized veteran caregivers who are likewise prevented from receiving the vaccine at the VA.”
After the U.S. House passed the bill without objection two weeks ago, the U.S. Senate passed the bill with no opposition last week.
Takano’s bill contained much of U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist’s, D-Fla., “Vaccines for Veterans” proposal which the Tampa Bay congressman introduced last month.
Crist co-sponsored Takano’s bill and he weighed in on the legislation after it cleared Capitol Hill at the end of last week.
“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 on Friday.
Crist, who is garnering buzz as a potential challenger to Gov. Ron DeSantis, used the opportunity to showcase his proposal to get Floridians vaccinated quickly and took a shot at the GOP-controlled government in Tallahassee.
“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,” Crist said.
Other co-sponsors from the Sunshine State include U.S. Reps. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., Lois Frankel, D-Fla., Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., and Dan Webster, R-Fla.
Buchanan weighed in on the bill after it cleared the House earlier this month.
“It’s a national disgrace and unacceptable that aging veterans with health conditions are being turned away and denied the vaccine because of a loophole in VA rules,” Buchanan said. “The Senate should quickly follow suit and send this important legislation to the president’s desk that will more than double the amount of veterans eligible to receive the vaccine from the VA and help save lives.”
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org.