Pandemic Response Legislation Passes Key Committee

For immediate release:

SACRAMENTO – Today, the Assembly Committee on Business and Professions approved AB 691, authored by Assemblymember Ed Chau (D–Monterey Park), which would make permanent authorization for certified optometrists to administer COVID-19 testing and vaccinations.  

“The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically impacted all of our lives and we need to do everything possible to put an end to it,” said Assemblymember Ed Chau. “By permanently recruiting healthcare professionals, like certified optometrist, to our life-saving mission, we place ourselves in a better position to combat and halt the spread of this deadly virus.”

In an effort to quickly administer COVID-19 vaccines to 40 million Californians, the California Department of Consumer Affairs recently authorized a waiver that allows certified optometrists to administer COVID-19 vaccines to persons 16 years of age or older, including epinephrine or diphenhydramine by injection for the treatment of a severe allergic reaction. The waiver is expected to stand during the declared state of emergency, resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Legislation is needed to make this authorization permanent, especially as optometrists undergo vaccine training, required by the wavier, and most experts expect the need for ongoing booster shots.

Specifically, this bill adds COVID-19 to the list of immunizations a qualified optometrist is authorized to administer, provides that performing a clinical laboratory test or examination necessary to detect the presence of COVID-19 is within the scope of practice of an optometrist, and makes this law take effect immediately to protect public health and preserve the future health care workforce by ensuring that qualified optometrists can assist to prevent the spread of COVID-19.