Pharmacists could soon administer more vaccines

By Dustin Beach
TheStatehouseFile.com 

INDIANAPOLIS – Hoosiers could soon go no farther than their local pharmacy for more of their shots.

Senate Bill 51 looks to expand the number of vaccines pharmacists can administer, as the current number sits at just six. The neighboring states of Illinois and Kentucky have no limits on the types of vaccines pharmacists can give, according to the bill’s author, Sen. Ronald Grooms, R-Jeffersonville.

Pharmacists working at pharmacies like CVS may soon be able to administer more vaccines to customers. Photo by Dustin Beach, TheStatehouseFile.com

“It’s working very well. There is data that demonstrates the states that allow pharmacists and convenience locations like pharmacies to administer the vaccines that the number of diseases are expected to go down,” Grooms said to the Senate before a final vote on the legislation Tuesday. “Immunizations have increased, particularly hepatitis A and B.”   

As the Indiana law states now, pharmacists can only give vaccines of influenza, shingles, pneumonia, tetanus, HPV infection and meningitis.

The Senate version of the bill would add the vaccines for chickenpox, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, Haemophilus influenzae type b, and measles, mumps and rubella.

When the bill was introduced in the Senate Health and Provider Services committee in January, it was greeted with support by several Indiana medical associations and was praised for the convenience it would provide for families.

“In order to achieve the highest level of vaccination rates, it’s critical that there is expanded access, both locations and hours wise, for patients to receive their vaccine as well as additional health care providers to provide education and awareness to parents on necessary vaccines,” Leslie Lake of the Indiana Pharmacists Alliance told the Senate committee.

A House amendment added language that would allow pharmacists to administer any vaccine recommended by the Center for Disease Control, as well adding protocols for administering these shots set by the state health commissioner. Opponents had originally taken issue with the lack of protocol in the original bill.

Sen. Mike Delph, R-Carmel, voted against the bill Tuesday, because he argues pharmacists have enough to do already.

“My personal belief is that pharmacists are so overwhelmed right now. I just don’t know if we should add more responsibilities to their plate,” he said.

The Senate voted 42-4 Tuesday to approve the bill and agree with the House amendment. The bill will now to go the governor’s desk for his final decision.

Dustin Beach is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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