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Pharmacy Access Coalition Urges Pennsylvania General Assembly to Support Measure Expanding Access to Vaccines
Date:8/28/2013

PITTSBURGH, Aug. 28, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- As students return to school in the final weeks of National Immunization Awareness Month, Pharmacy Choice & Access Now (PCAN) is urging the Pennsylvania General Assembly to support legislation that would increase access to vaccines for school-age children and teens.

The bill's prime sponsor, state Rep. Seth Grove (R-York), was joined by educators, health care professionals and students at the University Club in Oakland to highlight the critical role that pharmacists play in delivering quality health care to local residents.  House Bill 776 would provide a convenient option for parents wishing to vaccinate their children by allowing trained and qualified pharmacists to help increase immunization rates among children seven and older, with parental consent.

"Being vaccinated is critical to staying healthy at all ages. We have the opportunity to increase accessibility for Pennsylvania children to get the protection they need," said Patricia Dowley Kroboth, Dean of the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy.  "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.'"

Timely vaccinations are one of the safest, most cost-effective ways to prevent serious or even deadly illnesses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccination for all children over six months, and state law requires a "TdaP" shot for protection against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis for all children entering seventh grade. 

Parents can face a number of obstacles for seeing that older children receive the recommended vaccines. For example, children who are healthy usually visit a doctor only once a year, and the visit may not coincide with the need for a vaccine.  Families may live in areas where there is a shortage of physicians, making it difficult to schedule an appointment in a timely fashion.  A parent's work schedule may also make it difficult to schedule a doctor's appointment during normal business hours. 

Expanding pharmacists' ability to administer vaccines would provide parents with a convenient alternative.  Pharmacies are generally open in the evenings and on weekends, making it easy to schedule a visit.  And community pharmacies are easily accessible in more than 2,000 locations throughout the state.  

In addition to being convenient, pharmacist-provided vaccines are also safe and effective.  Prior to administering vaccines, pharmacists must be licensed and have immunizations certification, which requires individual study, hands-on training and demonstrated mastery of technique.  As immunizers, pharmacists must also maintain a current CPR certificate.  Pharmacists have been safely providing immunizations to adults in the state for many years and Rep. Grove's proposal would bring Pennsylvania in line with what is currently being done in 36 states, without incident.

Undeniably, patients trust their pharmacists. In a November 2012 Gallup Poll, pharmacists ranked second on a list of 22 professions in terms of honesty and ethical standards.  One in five Americans now chooses to get a flu shot from their local pharmacist, according to the CDC.

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

Pharmacy Choice & Access NOW (PCAN)is a coalition of consumers, local business and pharmacists across the nation committed to preserving quality and affordable health care and pharmacy services for patients.  PCAN members are committed to providing the most cost effective solutions in the areas of health care and pharmacy services to enable states around the country to help solve their budget woes while maintaining quality care for children, families and other Medicaid-served populations.  You can Join the conversation on Facebook (Pharmacy Choice and Access Now) and Twitter (@RxPCAN)

For more information, please visit www.RxChoiceandAccess.com


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SOURCE Pharmacy Choice & Access Now (PCAN)
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