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Tuberville-backed bill expanding coronavirus vaccine access for veterans signed into law

A bill expanding coronavirus vaccine access for military veterans and those who care for them, of which U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) was an original cosponsor, was signed into law on Wednesday.

The bill makes expanded categories of individuals eligible to get COVID-19 vaccines at medical facilities operated by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Tuberville is a member of the Senate’s Armed Services and Veterans Affairs Committees.

“Alabama is home to more than 400,000 veterans, and I am proud to support a bill that increases accessibility to the vaccine for our service members and their spouses,” Alabama’s junior senator said in a statement.

The legislation, officially titled the Strengthening and Amplifying Vaccination Efforts to Locally Immunize all Veterans and Every Spouse (SAVE LIVES) Act, passed the Senate unanimously on March 17.

The House agreed to the Senate’s changes to the bill on March 19 in another unanimous vote, and the legislation was presented to the president on March 23.

President Joe Biden quickly signed the bill with little fanfare on Wednesday, March 24.

“It is refreshing when Washington can come together and get something done, and I can’t think of a better cause than protecting our veterans against COVID,” remarked Tuberville.

According to a summary written by the Congressional Research Service, the bill expands to the following categories the ability to get vaccinated at VA facilities:

  • Veterans who are not eligible to enroll in the VA health care system;
  • Specified veterans who are eligible for hospital care, medical services, and nursing home care abroad;
  • Family caregivers who are approved as providers of personal care services for veterans under the VA’s Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers;
  • Caregivers of veterans participating in the VA’s Program of General Caregiver Support Services; and
  • Caregivers of veterans participating in the VA’s Medical Foster Home Program, Bowel and Bladder Program, Home Based Primary Care Program, or Veteran Directed Care Program.

The bill also stipulates that the “VA must prioritize the vaccination of (1) veterans who are enrolled in the VA health care system, (2) veterans who fail to enroll but receive hospital care and medical services for specified disabilities in their first 12 months of separation from service, and (3) caregivers accompanying such prioritized veterans.”

All coronavirus vaccinations are being provided at no cost to those living in the United States of America and on its military installations.

“Our best defense against this virus is making sure all Americans get the vaccine, and this is another step in the right direction,” said Tuberville Wednesday.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@new-yhn.local or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.