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New law lets pharmacists provide pneumonia, HPV vaccines

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Pharmacists will soon be able to offer more immunizations to customers in what lawmakers say is an effort to make health care more accessible.

Currently, pharmacists can offer flu vaccines under guidelines approved by a physician.

Starting July 1, they’ll be able to add vaccinations for pneumonia, tetanus, diphtheria, acellular pertussis, HPV infections, and meningitis.

“We really look at this as a public health service,” said Larry Sage, executive vice president of the Indiana Pharmacists Alliance.

“The goal is to make immunizations more available,” he said. “And pharmacists are probably the most available public health care provider you can find.”

More than 40 states currently allow pharmacists to provide immunizations, although requirements for education and oversight vary. In Indiana, pharmacists must undergo immunization training.

Already, the state has more than 2,700 pharmacists trained to provide the shots and several hundred new ones are added annually. Also, the state’s pharmacy schools now integrate the training into their curriculums.

The new law will let pharmacy students administer vaccines under the direction of a professional. Thirty-five other states do so as well.

“We are pleased that the law also permits qualified students to administer immunizations under appropriate supervision,” Mary Andritz, dean of the Butler University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, said in a statement when the bill passed. “As with other areas of pharmacy practice, it is important for students to have supervised experience prior to licensure for independent practice.”

Gov. Mike Pence signed the bill in April at a ceremony at the DanMar Pharmacy in Salem where Republican Rep. Steve Davisson is the pharmacist. He was the bill’s author and said it should help consumers save money.

“It’s cheaper to go to a pharmacist  than to go to the doctor where you have to pay for a doctor’s visit too,” Davisson said. “And you’re not taking up a doctor’s time when you don’t actually have a health problem.”

Davisson said the legislation should also help boost Indiana’s immunization rates, particularly for meningitis, which is has become an increasing health problem across the nation.

The new law also requires lawmakers to study adult and children’s immunization issues.

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