Pharmacy Choice and Access Now pushes for passage of Pa. vaccination bill

PITTSBURGH — A consumer group is urging the Pennsylvania state legislature to increase access to vaccines for children and teenagers.

Pharmacy Choice and Access Now said Wednesday it was encouraging the Pennsylvania General Assembly to support House Bill 776, which would pharmacists to help increase immunization rates among children ages 7 years and older, with parental consent. The bill, sponsored by Republican state Rep. Seth Grove, has received support from educators, healthcare professionals and students.

"Being vaccinated is critical to staying healthy at all ages," University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy dean Patricia Kroboth said. "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."

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends annual flu shots for everyone ages 6 months and older, and state law requires all children entering seventh grade to receive vaccinations against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, parents can face many obstacles when getting their children vaccinated. For example, annual visits to the doctor may not coincide with the need for a vaccine, and it may be difficult to get vaccinated in areas with physician shortages, while work schedules may make doctor appointments difficult to schedule. By contrast, pharmacies are usually open in evenings and on weekends and often offer vaccinations on a walk-in basis.