In their latest attempt to push both COVID-19 and influenza vaccines on anyone who will take one, the Democratic-majority House passed a new bill this week aimed at expanding access to vaccines to the veteran community.
According to The Hill, after a successful voice vote, the House passed legislation that aims to increase access to both flu and COVID-19 vaccines through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for veterans, their spouses and family, and their caregivers.
The legislation expands a law passed earlier this year with the same goal of providing COVID-19 vaccines to former U.S. service members and their spouses. Now, they’ll have access to flu shots through the VA until April of next year.
Prior to the legislation, veterans and their families had trouble obtaining such services through their particular VA healthcare plans, let alone their caregivers who, given their often daily and close proximity to veterans, wanted the same easy access to get vaccinated, if they so choose.
House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Mark Takano (D-CA) championed the new legislation, insisting that allowing veterans and caregivers to have access to both vaccines, that it will ultimately lead to fewer people from those groups ending up in the hospital throughout the winter season when flu cases typically spike.
“Public health officials are clear: It is completely safe to receive both inoculations even at the same time,” Takano said.
The California Democrat added: “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.”
Health officials across the country are once again worried about a new spike in COVID-19 cases, which combined with the average number of those hospitalized each year from serious cases of the flu, could mean another round of packed hospitals and not enough medical staff to maintain proper services.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), though flu cases set record lows last year, the agency is already seeing an uptick in cases this year, which some believe is happening as a result of people not wearing masks and taking preventative measures as they did last year at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.