The House on Monday passed legislation that would extend access for veterans, their spouses and their relatives to receive vaccines against both influenza and COVID-19 through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
The bill, which was passed by a vote, would build on a law passed earlier this year that gave the VA the authority to administer coronavirus vaccines to all veterans as well as their spouses and relatives. It marked a significant extension from previous rules that restricted VA from administering vaccines to veterans enrolled in its health care system or family carers enrolled in its assistance program.
According to the proposal, which was approved on Monday, VA could supply seasonal flu vaccines along with COVID-19 shots until April 29 next year.
“Public health officials are clear: It’s completely safe to receive both inoculations even at the same time,” said the chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee. Mark TakanoMark Allan TakanoHouse adopts bill to expand veterans’ access to COVID-19, flu vaccines VA secretary promises to house hundreds of homeless veterans in LA by the end of the year. The Hill’s 12:30 Report – Presented by Altria – Biden holds meetings to revive its consumption plan MORE (D-California). “By providing easy access to both vaccines at the same time, I hope we can begin to reduce the burden on the broader health care system this winter.”
Adoption of the bill comes as the winter break approaches and cases of coronavirus in the US rise again. Cases had recently stabilized after the summer wave driven by the delta variant of the virus.
Influenza virus, meanwhile, tends to peak in the winter months between December and February. The incidence of influenza is currently low in general, but infections have increased in recent weeks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Influenza activity was unusually low in the 2020-2021 season both in the United States and globally. The CDC attributed the decline to COVID-19 mitigation measures such as masks, crowd avoidance and school closures, which also helped limit the spread of influenza viruses.