MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, 2016

PCAN urges Pennsylvania legislators to expand vacine access

The Pharmacy Choice & Access Now coalition urged the Pennsylvania General Assembly on Wednesday to support a measure that would increase access to vaccines for school-age children and teens.

Rep. Seth Grove (R-York), the sponsor of House Bill 776, was joined by healthcare professionals, educators and students at the University of Pittsburgh's University Club in Oakland, Pa., to highlight the importance of pharmacists in delivering effective healthcare to local residents. The bill would provide a convenient option for parents who want to vaccinate their children by letting trained and qualified pharmacists increase immunization rates among children seven and older.

"Being vaccinated is critical to staying healthy at all ages," Patricia Dowley Kroboth, the dean of the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy, said. "We have the opportunity to increase accessibility for Pennsylvania children to get the protection they need. Expanding pharmacists' ability to administer vaccinations would be a big step toward correcting this and improving the health of people of the commonwealth. Pharmacists are trained and ready to help ensure that all school-age children and teenagers are properly vaccinated, and this legislation would give them the 'go-ahead to fulfill that mission.'"

By expanding the ability of pharmacists to administer vaccines, parents would be able to overcome obstacles that keep older children from receiving recommended vaccines. Some barriers include yearly doctor visits that don't always coincide with the need for a vaccine, areas with a shortage of physicians and parental work schedules.

"Families would greatly benefit from the option of pharmacist-provided vaccines for their kids," Kroboth said. "I applaud Representative Grove for recognizing the value of pharmacies."

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a yearly flu vaccine for all children over six months of age. The state of Pennsylvania requires a Tdap shot to protect against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis for all children entering seventh grade.

If HB 776 is passed into law, the bill would bring Pennsylvania in line with a similar policy enacted in 36 states.

PCAN is a coalition of pharmacists, local businesses and consumers committed to preserving quality and affordable healthcare and pharmacy services for patients in need.