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Pennsylvania doctors back bill for pharmacist immunizations
May 16th, 2013
HARRISBURG, Pa. – Doctors across Pennsylvania are urging state legislators to support House Bill 776, which would expand pharmacist-provided immunizations to children over age 7, according to the Pennsylvania Pharmacists Association.
The association said Thursday that in letters sent to the House Professional Licensure Committee earlier this month, the physicians requested that members support the measure and vote it out of committee in the near future. The doctors' letters accompanied letters sent by Pennsylvania's seven schools of pharmacy to express support for HB 776.
"Pennsylvania currently ranks 16th in the nation in terms of vaccinating our children against preventable illnesses and diseases. There is definitely room for improvement there," Robert Frankil, president of the Pennsylvania Pharmacists Association, said in a statement. "We are very pleased to be working with Pennsylvania physicians to support legislation that would enable us to make progress in this area and help keep our state healthy. We encourage legislators to support this important piece of legislation."
According to the association, Pennsylvania last acted to broaden availability of vaccines in 2002 by amending the state's Pharmacy Act to enable pharmacists to administer immunizations to people age 18 and older. Since then, 39 other states have passed vaccination expansion legislation allowing pharmacists with immunization credentials to provide such vaccines to those younger than 18, the group noted.
"We believe collaboration among physicians and pharmacists is key to improving vaccination rates in Pennsylvania," one physician letter stated. "Using pharmacists as immunizers is a convenient and easy way to boost rates for not only the flu vaccine but to also make needed school vaccines more accessible."
Expanding the types of vaccines that can be administered by pharmacists would widen access to immunizations and raise vaccination rates in the state, Pennsylvania Pharmacists Association said. Pennsylvania has more than 2,500 licensed pharmacists "ready and able" to increase vaccination rates, and many are in Medically Underserved Areas (MUAs) and Health Provider Shortage Areas (HSPAs), where often the local pharmacist is the most accessible and affordable health care provider, the association added.
Other states also have taken action this year to enable pharmacists to administer vaccinations to children.
For example, in April, representatives of Texas pharmacy groups, independent pharmacists and industry experts called for the passage of state legislation that would expand the authority of Texas pharmacists to administer vaccines to children over age 7.
And in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo in January issued an executive order that allowed pharmacists to administer flu vaccines to patients age six months to 17 years. Made during a severe flu outbreak at the time, the order suspended for the 30 days the section of state education law that restricts the authority of pharmacists to administer immunizing agents only to people age 18 or older.