SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2016

Community pushes for free child vaccination in Pennsylvania pharmacies

Representatives from several veteran benefit organizations joined together on Monday at the Pennsylvania Capitol Rotunda to push for the expedited passage of legislation to allow children to be vaccinated by local pharmacists for free.

Rep. Seth Grove (R-Pa.) and Sen. Ted Erickson (R-Pa.) proposed House Bill 776 and Senate Bill 819 in June to close a loophole in Pennsylvania that states pharmacists cannot vaccinate persons under 18 years of age. The TRICARE military health insurance program allows for free immunizations at pharmacies while the loophole keeps children from access to free vaccines.

"Thousands of military families here in Pennsylvania are losing out on an important benefit they have earned under their TRICARE health insurance: free vaccines in pharmacies," Grove said. "Let's pass House Bill 776 to close this loophole and make it easier for military parents-and all parents-to get their kids immunized."

Pharmacies often offer more access to affordable vaccines, longer hours of operations and more locations than physicians and health care facilities.

"Military families work hard and make great sacrifices to support our freedom," Chair of the House Veterans Affairs Committee Rep. Steve Barrar (R-Pa.) said. "It is important for legislators to support their need for access to convenient, free immunizations for their children by voting for House Bill 776."

The bills have bipartisan support in the House and Senate and are awaiting support of the full chamber.