Grove Childhood Immunization Proposal Studied by House Professional Licensure Committee
3/28/2012
HARRISBURG - The House Professional Licensure Committee today held a public hearing in Harrisburg to discuss a proposal authored by Rep. Seth Grove (R-Dover) that would allow licensed pharmacists to administer immunizations to children. Current law limits a pharmacist’s vaccination authority to adults.

“In the ongoing debate about health care costs and access to vital care, this legislation will substantially improve the health of Pennsylvania’s children at no additional cost to the health care system,” said Grove. “Immunizations are a proven way to prevent deadly illnesses and are required to attend public school in Pennsylvania. Pharmacists already have authority to immunize adults, they specialize in dispensing medication and they are readily accessible during evening hours and weekends, even in medically underserved communities. Expanding the ability of pharmacists to vaccinate minors is a commonsense solution to improving immunization rates.”

To view a video clip of Grove’s comments, visit http://youtu.be/Z8zOyn9u7cs

Testifiers at the hearing included Adam C. Welch, president of the Pennsylvania Pharmacists Association; Rick Mohall, director of field clinical services for Rite Aid Corporation; Al Carter, manager of pharmacy affairs for Walgreen Company; Dr. Allen Nussbaum, vice president of the PA Chapter of American Academy of Pediatrics; and Dr. Marilyn J. Heine, president of the Pennsylvania Medical Society.

“This legislation is vitally important to the health and well-being of children in Pennsylvania,” said Mohall. “This proposal will increase access to lifesaving immunizations for children. I urge the committee to support this bill.”

Nussbaum and Heine, who stated their opposition to the legislation, spoke about fragmentation of care and cases in which severe reactions have occurred after immunization. Nussbaum also expressed concern about the cost to the patient for pharmacy-provided vaccines, which may not be covered by insurance.

Answering concerns that this proposal could limit a doctor’s information about patient care, Welch pointed out that pharmacists already communicate with doctors, notifying primary care physicians when a vaccine is administered at a pharmacy. Pharmacists also are trained in CPR and can administer epinephrine if a rare allergic reaction were to occur.

“I appreciate the testimony of everyone who participated today and the questions of my colleagues,” said Grove. “The hearing process is meant to improve the legislation we send to the floor, and I am certainly willing to work with all stakeholders to ensure we are providing the utmost access to lifesaving vaccines for all Pennsylvanians.”

Grove noted that at least 13 states currently allow pharmacists to vaccinate people of all ages. He also referenced the enormous cost savings vaccines provide by securing the health of individuals against painful, costly and life-threatening diseases.

According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, which operates under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, vaccinations against polio, small pox, measles and rubella have led to the eradication or near eradication of these diseases, saving countless lives and health care dollars.

In August 2011, Pennsylvania increased its regulatory requirements for children attending public schools to include a second dose of the mumps and chicken pox vaccines. The new regulations also require seventh-grade students to have one dose each of meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV4) and the tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis vaccine (Tdap). The Pennsylvania Department of Health is providing free immunization clinics in April; however, these clinics are not available in every community.

House Bill 817 is awaiting the consideration of the House Professional Licensure Committee.

More information about Grove and his legislative priorities is available at www.RepGrove.com or www.Facebook.com/RepSethGrove.

State Representative Seth Grove
196th District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Nicole Wamsley
nwamsley@pahousegop.com
717.783.8063
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