By: Mahdieh Danesh Yazdi
Many pharmacists were disappointed that New York was the 49th state to allow pharmacists to immunize in December 2008. Even then, the state legislature limited pharmacists to administering the influenza vaccine and the pneumococcal vaccine to those 18 years and older. There is now some exciting news from Albany. The legislature is looking at a bill which significantly expands the immunization powers of pharmacists.
Bill S3808A in the New York State Senate, also known as Bill A36301A in the New York State Assembly, gives pharmacists the right to administer all adult vaccines recommended by the Center for Disease Control (CDC). The law also extends immunization rights to pharmacy residents and pharmacy interns as long as they are under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist. Of course, the pharmacy resident or intern must first obtain a Certificate of Administration and must work under a pharmacist who also possesses the Certificate as well. Furthermore, this bill would set a one-time one hundred dollar fee for the Certificate, as opposed to paying the same amount on a triennial basis, and would eliminate the requirement that the prescriber of the vaccine be registered in the same county as the pharmacist who would provide the immunization.
This bill would expand immunizations to include varicella, human papilloma virus (HPV), measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), meningococcal, Hepatitis A, and Hepatitis B. Pharmacists, pharmacy residents, and pharmacy interns would be permitted to administer the Tdap booster shot, which would protect patients from tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis.
This bill is in response to the “sunset provision” of the original bill that gave pharmacists the power to immunize. The “sunset provision” set an expiration date for the bill for March 31, 2012. Legislators presumably wanted to see how effective the bill would be before making it permanent. Having deemed it a successful initiative, the legislature is now trying to expand the pharmacists’ immunization powers. They deem this necessary in order to comply with the CDC recommendation to increase the rate of those vaccinated within New York State. Also, the legislators recognize that in case of a pandemic, having pharmacists who can give vaccines besides the pneumococcal and influenza vaccine may be a tremendous asset. The authors of the bill recognize that pharmacy residents and pharmacy interns could play a role in increasing vaccination rates as immunization providers. The need for this bill is further justified by the fact that physicians are now limiting their supply of vaccines due to the cost of the products and storage issues. With Medicare Part D now covering pharmacist administered vaccinations, many physicians may not see the need to keep vaccines in their offices. This may limit the supply available for patients. As such, expanding pharmacists’ ability to immunize also translates into increased access for patients.
Bill S3808A is currently in the higher education committee in the New York State Senate and Bill A6301A is in the respective committee in the New York State Assembly. It is sponsored by Sen. Fuschillo in the Senate and Assemblywoman Paulin in the Assembly. It is hoped that through this bill, the legislature will acknowledge the pivotal role that pharmacists can play in increasing compliance rates with immunizations and ultimately, the immense resource they can be in disease prevention.
To view the actual bill please visit: