Forwards Observer: New Law Expands Vaccine Access for Veterans and Families

All veterans, veteran spouses, caregivers, and CHAMPVA recipients now have access to VA COVID-19 vaccination services under the SAVE LIVES Act

LVMAC Poster Art 2005There are longer, self-congratulatory articles on this elsewhere, but what follows is what you need to know:

On 24 March 2021, the president signed legislation into law expanding COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to veterans and their families under the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), following efforts from House and Senate Committees on Veterans’ Affairs leaders to improve the vaccine protocol.

The Strengthening and Amplifying Vaccination Efforts to Locally Immunize all Veterans and Every Spouse Act (SAVE LIVES Act) now allows VA to provide COVID-19 vaccination services 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.

Therefore, importantly, the new law also urges the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to adjust VA’s vaccine allocation as a consequence — as much as the supply chain allows.

In short, the legislation provides gives the VA authority to provide vaccines to:

  • Veterans who are not eligible for enrollment in VA’s health care system, including veterans without compensable service-connected disabilities and veterans who have incomes above a certain threshold;
  • Caregivers of veterans who are enrolled in various VA home-based and long-term care programs;
  • Spouses of veterans; and
  • CHAMPVA recipients (spouses of permanently and totally disabled veterans or of veterans who have died from service-connected disabilities).

Additionally, vaccines furnished abroad are authorized to be furnished in a geographic location other than a state regardless of whether vaccines are needed for the treatment of veterans with a service-connected disability (including those participating in a VA rehabilitation program).

This is a pragmatic solution towards broadening the reach of vaccination efforts as quickly and efficiently as possible.  Let us hope the Congress thinks, in future, in such manner for all its citizens.

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As of 28 March 2021

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