ROANOKE - Two bills introduced by Del. Sam Rasoul (D-Roanoke) that make vaccinations and health care more accessible in Virginia were signed by Gov. Ralph Northam. The bills were introduced in the 2021 Special Session as part of Rasoul’s aggressive COVID recovery plan to help Virginians by expanding the scope of practice for pharmacists and physician assistants.
“It’s long past due for us to eliminate barriers for people to get basic care,” said Rasoul. “Pharmacists and physicians assistants are health care professionals who can and should be able to provide basic services. For people who don’t have a primary care provider, this will make a huge difference when it comes to treating basic illnesses.”
HB 2079 makes permanent a pharmacist’s temporary ability to vaccinate adults for COVID, among other diseases.
The bill allows pharmacists to provide services for adults, including:
Test and write prescriptions for the flu, strep, tuberculosis, and urinary tract infections
Administer vaccines that currently have emergency use authorization from the CDC, like the COVID vaccines, as well as other vaccines for certain diseases
Prescribe controlled substances for pre- and post-exposure to HIV
The bill also stipulates that pharmacists inform a patient’s primary care providers of any treatments. If the patient doesn’t have a primary care provider, they will be counseled to find one.
The bill passed the Senate unopposed and the House with only two opposing votes.
HB 2039 expands the scope of practice for physician assistants by allowing them to enter into multiple practice agreements with care teams. It also clarifies that student PAs aren’t required to be licensed to give vaccines, examine patients, and administer test results, provided that they’re enrolled in a PA education program.
“Drawing on my experience in health administration, as well as four terms in the General Assembly, we prioritized the expansion of health care access in the midst of a global pandemic,” Rasoul said of the Special Session. “As Vice Chair of the Committee on Health, Welfare, and Institutions, I’ve seen the structural problems in our health system that have prevented Virginians from accessing care even before the most recent pandemic. This bill removes barriers while ensuring safe, quality care for patients.”