In March 2021, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill, titled the SAVE LIVES Act (short for the Strengthening and Amplifying Vaccination Efforts to Locally Immunize All Veterans and Every Spouse Act), which requires the Department of Veterans Affairs to offer coronavirus vaccines to all Veterans, regardless of whether they’re enrolled in VA health care.
Under the bill, caregivers of Veterans, as well as Veterans living abroad, would also qualify for vaccines through the VA; however, Veterans enrolled into VA health care would receive priority, and the VA will offer vaccinations to the other groups only if the vaccine supply is available.
Who’s Eligible to Get a COVID-19 Vaccine through the VA?
According to the SAVE LIVES Act, covered individuals are:
- Veterans who are not eligible to enroll in the VA health care system;
- specified Veterans who are eligible for hospital care, medical services, and nursing home care abroad;
- family caregivers who are approved as providers of personal care services for Veterans under the VA's Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers;
- caregivers of Veterans participating in the VA's Program of General Caregiver Support Services; and
- caregivers of Veterans participating in the VA's Medical Foster Home Program, Bowel and Bladder Program, Home Based Primary Care Program, or Veteran Directed Care Program.
The legislation does not require Veterans or their family members to get a vaccine through VA facilities, but allows them the option to receive it when doses are available.
COVID-19 Vaccine Availability
At this time, the VA still has a limited amount of vaccines but is working to determine how quickly it can begin to offer vaccines to these other groups. There are about 6 million active VA users who receive priority under the new bill, as well as about 450,000 employees.
Note: Your employer, pharmacy, or local public health officials may also offer you a COVID-19 vaccine.
Learn more about COVID-19 vaccines at the VA, including where they will offer vaccines, vaccine safety, how you will be contacted, and more.