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House of Representatives
Session of 2013 - 2014 Regular Session


Posted: February 4, 2013 09:44 AM
From: Representative Seth M. Grove
To: All House members
Subject: Expanding Pharmacists’ Ability to Provide Life-Saving Immunizations (Former HB 817)
In the near future, I will be reintroducing House Bill 817 from the 2010-2011 session that amends the Pharmacy Practice Act to allow pharmacists the ability to immunize patients over the age of 7 with parental consent. It would also allow licensed pharmacy interns to immunize under the direct supervision of a pharmacist who possesses an immunization license. The previous version of this legislation had no age limit.

Currently, PA law allows pharmacists and pharmacy interns to immunize adults (18 years of age and older). Since the original immunization expansion legislation passed in the Commonwealth more than 10 years ago, PA pharmacists have been successful in improving immunization rates for adults. Nationally, it is estimated that during the 2011-12 flu season, 20% of adults received the flu vaccination in a pharmacy.

Very simply, this legislation would give Pennsylvania’s parents the option of having their children immunized at a pharmacy. Pharmacists are safely providing immunization to children and adolescents age 7 and over in 24 states. With more than 6600 active certified pharmacist immunizers in the Commonwealth, pharmacy is ready and willing to do more to improve accessibility and raise immunization rates.

I think we all understand the value in making immunizations as accessible as possible both in terms of saving lives and in avoiding costs associated with the various diseases they prevent. However, the facts are clear that there is an access issue: on January 29, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that vaccination rates in the U.S. are “unacceptably low”; we are currently in the midst of an influenza outbreak; and, 2012 saw the highest rates of pertussis (whooping cough) since 1955.

You will also recall last spring the Department of Health made certain additional vaccinations, including pertussis, mandatory for school entry the deadline had to be moved several times because of the difficulty families found in meeting it. I believe if this bill had passed last year and parents had the additional option of taking their school-aged children to a pharmacy in the evening or on weekends, we may have potentially been able to avoid that problem.

According to a June 2012 letter from the CDC, “pharmacists and community vaccinators are uniquely positioned to promote and provide vaccines. In addition, their extensive reach into diverse communities allows greater access to vaccines for those who may not have a medical home, and who traditionally have had lower rates of vaccine use.” For a copy of that letter go to http://www.pharmacist.com/cdc-and-hhs-request-help-pharmacists-promoting-and-providing-vaccinations

Please join me in cosponsoring this legislation. Families Fighting Flu, The Pennsylvania Pharmacists Association and the Pennsylvania Association of Chain Drug Stores support this legislation.

Previous Cosponsors: Delozier, Barrar, Boback, Boyd, Brennan, Caltagirone, Causer, Denlinger, Ellis, Everett, Farry, Gabler, Geist, Gibbons, Gingrich, Goodman, Hess, Josephs, Kauffman, M. K. Keller, Killion, Kortz, Miller, Moul, Mundy, D. O'Brien, Pyle, Quinn, Readshaw, Reichley, Rock, Sabatina, Stevenson, Taylor, Bear, Murt, Fabrizio, Peifer, Harkins, Benninghoff and Hornaman

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Introduced as HB776