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7 States Authorize Optometrists to Give COVID-19 Vaccines, AOA Reports

U.S. Rep. Yvette Clarke, D-NY, has taken up the cause at the federal level.

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Seven U.S. states have granted optometrists the explicit authority to administer COVID-19 vaccines, the American Optometric Association reports.

They are:

  • California
  • Kentucky
  • New Jersey
  • Ohio
  • South Carolina
  • Utah
  • Virginia

In South Carolina, for example, AOA reports that Gov. Henry McMaster signed a measure that “expanded COVID-19 vaccine administration authority to doctors of optometry participating at a vaccination site, conditioned on completion of several training programs.” Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam signed similar legislation.

In January, the AOA asked President Joe Biden to ensure that optometrists are allowed to administer COVID-19 vaccines. In a letter to the president, the group “urged the new administration to amend the current COVID-19 Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act declaration to recognize that all doctors of optometry can administer vaccines.”

The AOA noted on Thursday that U.S. Rep. Yvette Clarke, D-NY, has written a letter “taking up optometry’s arguments and urging the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to authorize doctors of optometry to help administer vaccines in local communities.”

“Providing this authority to doctors of optometry would provide a range of communities with quick, safe and easy access to these vital vaccinations,” Clarke wrote. “We strongly believe that a declaration by HHS under the PREP Act would allow doctors of optometry across the country to join their colleagues already on the front lines in a growing number of states that have already granted optometrists’ vaccination authority.”

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