House approves bill giving all veterans access to the COVID-19 vaccine

More vaccines could be on the way to those who served our country. The U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill by Congressman Vern Buchanan to give all veterans access to the COVID-19 vaccine.

Many veterans in Southwest Florida were asking questions about when they’ll receive the vaccine. And, hopefully, those efforts will come to fruition soon.

For some veterans, getting the COVID-19 vaccine feels like winning the lottery. Demand is high and supply is low. And, there are too many questions to count.

Kevin Boyd is the commander of American Legion Post 38. “I think a lot of it is due to misinformation and not being aware of what’s available for you,” Boyd said. “And that’s probably a problem for veterans organizations. We need to get that information out to these people.”

That is what Post 38 did Wednesday morning. Joseph Scotchlas is the associate director for the Bay Pines VA, and he led a nearly hour-long question and answer session. He stressed that time is of the essence.

“We have a lot of veterans who are interested in the vaccine, but we don’t want to start in April or May to start talking about the vaccine hesitancy,” Scotchlas said.

The first priority is that people are able to go through the VA to make their appointments. Veterans who are eligible and enrolled in VA care must express they are interested.

“So it’s really important if a veteran is currently interested in getting the vaccine and haven’t put an interest note to contact their primary care office,” Scotchlas said.

Many veterans are worried their spouses won’t be able to get the COVID-19 vaccine through the VA, but that could change very soon.

The House of Representatives passed a bill co-sponsored by Congressman Vern Buchanan of Florida that would provide veterans and their caregivers with the COVID-19 vaccine.

But, until that goes into effect, Post 38 will continue working to get shots for 100 veterans in the next month.

“I’ll be in line with them too to get the shot, so if need be, I’ll be the first one to get the shot to show everybody, yeah, it’s safe; take it,” Boyd said.

They are doing their part to remove doubt so that veterans can roll up their sleeves and get their shots.

The VA is following CDC guidelines, not those imposed by Governor DeSantis, to decide who is eligible for the host. For now, that includes anyone over 65, people under 65 with underlying health conditions and frontline workers.

Reporter:Zach Oliveri
Writer:Drew Hill
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