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Congressman Charlie Crist announces expansion of vaccine eligibility for American veterans

Under the Vaccines for Veterans Act, all those who have served can get a COVID-19 shot, not just those receiving VA health care.
Credit: AP Photo/Chris O'Meara
U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, D-Fla., before Jill Biden speaks to supporters while campaigning for her husband Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden, during a campaign rally Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020, in Tampa, Fla.

BAY PINES, Fla — All American veterans are now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine under the Vaccines for Veterans Act.

Florida Rep. Charlie Crist made the announcement Monday during a press conference at the Bay Pines VA. He was joined by a group of veterans who shared their stories about struggling to get access to the COVID-19 vaccine.

The law expands access to millions of veterans who were not previously eligible to receive the shot. Before the law was passed, only veterans receiving healthcare through the VA, such as those with service-related disabilities or those making below a certain income, were able to get the vaccine.

Congressman Crist said the legislation was introduced as veterans were being turned away from vaccine sites due to a federal policy only allowing the VA to vaccinate veterans receiving VA healthcare.

The Vaccines for Veterans Act will "give local medical directors the flexibility they need to vaccinate as many veterans as possible. This would increase the number of veterans vaccinated, and free-up appointments for more seniors," Rep. Crist said in a February press release.

The news comes on National Vietnam War Veteran's Day, a day recognizing the service and sacrifice of Vietnam veterans and their families.

For more information on the Vaccines for Veterans Act, you can visit Rep. Charlie Crist's website.

To find out where to book a COVID-19 vaccine appointment in the Tampa Bay area, check out our county-by-county breakdown.

Watch Rep. Charlie Crist's announcement below.

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