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Pharmacists seek broader immunization authority in Texas
April 9th, 2013
AUSTIN, Texas – Representatives of Texas pharmacy groups, independent pharmacists and industry experts are calling for passage of state legislation that would widen access to immunizations for children.
The legislation, Senate Bill 1013, introduced by Texas State Sen. Larry Taylor (R.), would expand the authority of Texas pharmacists to administer vaccines to children over age 7.
The Texas Senate Health and Human Services Committee took up the bill on Tuesday, according to Pharmacy Choice and Access Now (PCAN), a coalition of pharmacists, businesses and consumers.
"Expanding immunization authority for Texas pharmacists would improve the health of Texas children by encouraging more childhood immunizations given the cost-effective and convenient nature of pharmacy-administered immunizations," Taylor said in a statement. "Passing SB 1013 is an important step in the effort to improve the health of our communities and reduce health care costs."
Similar legislation, House Bill 2938 and House Bill 2222 by Texas State Reps. Jodie Laubenberg (R.) and Gene Wu (D.), has been filed in the Texas House.
"This important legislation will help prevent unnecessary hospital stays and diseases, reduce health care costs and even save lives," stated Joe DaSilva, chief executive officer of the Texas Pharmacy Association. "We continue to work closely with Sen. Taylor and Reps. Laubenberg and Wu and other stakeholders to ensure more Texas children have access to vital immunizations."
Currently, Texas state law enables pharmacists to administer the flu vaccine to anyone over age 7 without a prescription. Yet pharmacists are only permitted to administer other Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-recommended vaccines — including meningitis, tetanus, diphtheria, whooping cough and others — to those over age 14 unless prescribed by a doctor.
"As a pharmacist serving hundreds of busy families, I see firsthand the growing need to expand access to immunizations for Texas children," commented pharmacist Mark Newberry, owner of Tarrytown Pharmacy in Austin, Texas. "For many of my patients, I provide critical health services such as answering general health care questions, filling prescriptions and providing immunizations for adults."
PCAN noted that a Baselice and Associates poll in February found that 87% of Texas voters agree that "trained pharmacists as well as trained nurses and physicians should be allowed to give immunization shots to children over the age of seven to help more children get the immunizations they need."
"Texas' qualified and trusted pharmacists are in an important position to help meet the growing immunization demand for children in their communities, especially in Medically Underserved Areas and Health Provider Shortage Areas where patients have limited access to a doctor’s office," noted Wu. "It is essential that we provide convenient and accessible options for parents to get their children the immunizations they need."
Added Laubenberg, "My colleagues and I currently have the opportunity to help improve the health of Texas children by passing SB 1013, HB 2938 and HB 2222. Expanding access for pharmacists to administer immunizations would not only help combat the destructive spread of diseases in our communities, it would also help reduce health care costs down the road."