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Texas pharmacists seek more authority to vaccinate children
March 11th, 2013
AUSTIN, Texas – Pharmacy groups in Texas are endorsing state legislation that would give Texas pharmacists wider authority to administer immunizations to children.
Currently, Texas state law enables pharmacists to administer flu vaccines to anyone over age 7 but only allows them to provide other Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-recommended vaccines — including tetanus, diphtheria and Tdap (whooping cough) — to those over age of 14.
Bills filed Friday by State Sen. Larry Taylor and State Reps. Jodie Laubenberg and Gene Wu — S.B. 1013, H.B. 2938 and H.B. 2222 — would allow Texas pharmacists to administer vaccines to children over age 7.
"Pharmacists are highly qualified and trusted health care providers who are in the best position to help meet the growing immunization demand and reduce the number of vaccine-preventable diseases for thousands of Texas children," Joe DaSilva , chief executive officer of the Texas Pharmacy Association, said in a statement. "Unfortunately, there are still many immunizations that Texans do not have easy access to, including the highly contagious pertussis. Expanding immunization authority for Texas pharmacists will increase access to vital immunizations for children across our state, helping to prevent diseases and reduce health care costs in the long run."
Pharmacy groups noted that Texas ranks below the national average in terms of immunization rates. And according to a February 2013 poll by Baselice and Associates, 93% of Texas voters agree that "children, with their parent's consent, should be immunized to protect them against common childhood diseases such as measles, meningitis and chicken pox." The poll also found that 87% of Texas voters agree that "trained pharmacists as well as trained nurses and physicians should be allowed to give immunization shots to children over the age of 7 to help more children get the immunizations they need."
"Increased accessibility to immunizations can result in fewer missed school days, fewer hospital visits and can even save lives," stated John Heal, governmental affairs director for Texas TrueCare Pharmacy. "The filing of this legislation is an important step in the effort to improve the health of our children and reduce health care costs. We look forward to working with Sen. Taylor, Rep. Laubenberg and Rep. Wu to ensure more Texas children have access to these vital immunizations."