(The Center Square) – Ohio’s push to increase the number of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered gained more momentum when Gov. Mike DeWine signed into a law a bill that expands the types of health care providers able to test for the disease and administer the vaccine.
House Bill 6 brings state law in line with earlier State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy rules that allowed pharmacists to administer COVID-19 testing and vaccinations while the state continued to develop plans to mitigate the coronavirus impact.
It also contained an emergency clause that made it effective immediately after it was signed.
The new law is a wide health care law that removes several regulatory speed bumps in an effort to quicken the path into the industry for new workers and broaden the abilities of current health care workers.
“It is critical that we pass this bill immediately so that graduating nurses in the class of 2021 can get into our healthcare workforce quicker,” bill sponsor Rep. Bill Roemer, R-Richfield, said before the bill cleared the General Assembly and was signed into law. “Among other things, this bill helps to take care of some of these professional barriers as it pertains to the pandemic.”
Aside from opening options to pharmacists, the law extends to July 1 a suspension of the requirement that a prospective nurse pass the licensing exam and allows them to receive a temporary license to practice.
It also gives schools flexibility regarding the number of weeks of field experience a student must complete to be eligible for an education license.
The bill signing received applause from The Buckeye Institute, a Columbus-based think tank that early in the pandemic called on the General Assembly to remove restrictive professional regulations to help meet ongoing needs.
“Governor DeWine wisely signed into law a series of policies, contained in House Bill 6, that will permanently expand the pool of health care providers that can administer the COVID-19 vaccine,” said Greg Lawson, research fellow at The Buckeye Institute. “This Buckeye Institute-championed policy was a recommendation Buckeye made in the early days of the pandemic and, by allowing pharmacists to test for COVID-19 and administer COVID-19 vaccines, will further Ohio’s ability to put this pandemic in its rearview mirror.”