More health professionals permitted to provide vaccinations under Joyce bill

The bipartisan Student Assisted Vaccination Effort (SAVE) Act, introduced last week by U.S. Rep. Dave Joyce (R-OH), would permanently allow qualified students studying to be health professionals to administer vaccinations during future public health emergencies.

“To protect the American people and our way of life, we need our nurses, pharmacists, medical students and other brave healthcare professionals on the front lines both now and in the future,” said Rep. Joyce, co-chair of the Congressional Nursing Caucus.

The SAVE Act, H.R. 5699, which is sponsored by U.S. Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ), would permanently amend the Public Health Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act to allow medical, nursing and other healthcare profession students to administer life-saving vaccinations.

The PREP Act already has been amended seven times to allow these additional categories of health professionals to vaccinate the public, including: physicians, registered nurses, practical nurses who have recently expired licenses, state-licensed pharmacists, supervised pharmacy interns, federal government employees, contractors, or volunteers with a federal department or agency, and medical and other health professions students who are trained to give injections with supervision, according to information provided by Rep. Joyce’s office.

However, the amendments last only for the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency, meaning that once the COVID-19 pandemic has ended, these groups made qualified through the amendments will no longer be considered in the definition, the information says.

“This pandemic made it painfully clear that any delay in distributing safe and effective vaccines in our communities costs lives,” Rep. Joyce said. “I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing this important legislation to ensure that the United States has the ability to quickly engage all qualified hands to vaccinate Americans in any future public health emergency.”

The American Nursing Association and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing endorsed H.R. 5699, which has been referred for consideration to the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee.