Georgia Senate passes bill that clarifies who can give COVID-19 vaccines

Georgia Sen. Dean Burke, R-Bainbridge, has proposed legislation that would allow more medical professionals such as pharmacists, nurses and medics to administer the COVID-19 vaccines. (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)
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Georgia Sen. Dean Burke, R-Bainbridge, has proposed legislation that would allow more medical professionals such as pharmacists, nurses and medics to administer the COVID-19 vaccines. (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

When states got word last year that COVID-19 vaccines would likely be making their way to the states, Gov. Brian Kemp issued an executive order that allows more medical professionals such as pharmacists, nurses and medics to administer the shots.

On Thursday, the Georgia Senate passed legislation that would make the practice a law going forward, whether or not there’s a health emergency. Senate Bill 46 now goes to the House for its consideration.

“The theory behind that is we’re probably never coming out of the need for COVID vaccine,” said the bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Dean Burke, a Bainbridge Republican and physician. “We’re going to be giving that probably for years. Hopefully it won’t be in a pandemic situation, but (the need will) be there. This allows those people to continue to provide access.”

The legislation also outlines how the state would report information to the federal government about who received the COVID-19 vaccine. Burke stressed that only information about the COVID-19 vaccine would be given to the federal government and not other vaccines such as the flu vaccine that many Georgians get each year.

The legislation would also codify a 20-year medical practice, requiring medical professionals to use the Georgia Registry of Immunization Transactions and Services to electronically track when Georgians receive vaccines.

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