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More immunization authority for N.Y. pharmacists

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A lot of the talk concerning New York state these days centers on the expansion of the minimum wage for fast-food workers to $15 an hour, as recommended by a panel appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. But another expansion in New York involves pharmacists: the ability to provide immunizations.

Pharmacy services sign_Rite AidEarlier this month, Cuomo signed into law Assembly Bill A123B, which authorizes pharmacists and nurse practitioners to administer immunizations to prevent shingles, meningitis, tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough. The legislation was sponsored by Assemblywoman Amy Paulin (D.).

Also signed by Cuomo was a Senate companion bill, S4739A, sponsored by State Sen. Kemp Hannon (R.).

According to Paulin, the legislation will facilitate access to such immunizations easier and, as a result, increase their effectiveness. “Allowing pharmacists and nurse practitioners to administer these vaccines will make it easier for a greater percentage of people to get immunized,” she said in a statement. “And that, ultimately, is the goal, to prevent as many people as possible from contracting these serious and potential life-threatening illnesses.”

As explained in the text of the bill, pharmacies offer a venue for making vaccinations more readily available, so qualified pharmacists should be empowered to provide them.

“New York State, like the United States as a whole, has experienced a surge in the number of cases of pertussis in recent years. The Tdap vaccine is recommended by the CDC for adults 19 years and older who have not received a dose of Tdap, especially those who have contact with infants. Allowing pharmacists to administer the Tdap vaccine will provide more opportunities for people to get vaccinated and help reduce the cases of pertussis in New York,” the bill reads.

“Importantly, this bill also makes it easier for people to get the shingles vaccine by authorizing pharmacists to administer that vaccine pursuant to a non-patient-specific regimen when following ACIP recommendations. Currently, pharmacists may only administer this immunization pursuant to a patient-specific prescription, so an individual must first go to their doctor and obtain the prescription, then go to the pharmacy to receive the immunization.”

In addition, the legislation continues pharmacists’ ability to administer flu vaccines.

“Pharmacists were first authorized to administer immunizations to prevent influenza or pneumococcal in 2008, and that authority has already been extended for an additional period due to the safety and success of that program,” the bill says. “This bill will eliminate that sunset provision, as well as the sunsets that apply to immunizations to prevent herpes zoster and meningococcal disease.”


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