Northam signs legislation expanding number of qualified vaccinators

Governor Ralph Northam recently signed two pieces of legislation that expands Virginia’s pool of health care providers eligible to administer the COVID-19 vaccine. House Bill 2333, sponsored by Del. Lamont Bagby, and its sibling bill SB 1445, sponsored by Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant, authorize dentists, dental hygienists, veterinarians, optometrists and health professions students enrolled in accredited Virginia programs to give the vaccine.

 

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The newly eligible vaccinators can register to volunteer through the Virginia Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) or the newly established Virginia Volunteer Vaccinator Registry (VVVR).

The new legislation and push to register more volunteer vaccinators will help the effort to vaccinate the community as quickly as possible, said M. Norman Oliver, MD, state health commissioner.

“We need ‘all hands on deck’ as we ramp up our vaccination campaign, and the legislation introduced by Del. Bagby and Sen. Dunnavant is crucial to providing additional tools during these unprecedented times.”

Last month, the Governor issued “Third Amended Executive Order Fifty-Seven,” which provides additional flexibility to health care providers to support the commonwealth’s vaccination program.

Last year, the governor called for 30,000 medical and non-medical volunteers to help fight COVID-19 and 35,000 joined the MRC, Northam said in a statement.

“Thanks to the tireless efforts of our health care providers and volunteer vaccinators, Virginia is now administering an average of more than 70,000 of the COVID-19 vaccine each day and has given over 3.8 million shots to date. By further expanding our vaccinator workforce, we can build on this momentum and ensure we have additional vaccination capacity as supply increases and more individuals become eligible to receive the vaccine.”

Starting April 18, all Virginia residents over the age of 16 who want a vaccine will be able to get one.