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Rule change allows parents to get children vaccinated at pharmacies

Before, kids age 3-18 had to be vaccinated by pediatricians
Posted at 12:10 PM, Aug 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-28 12:10:56-04

A new rule change will allow parents to get their children vaccinated at pharmacies in all 50 states.

“Her pediatrician wanted her to have a pneumonia vaccine because of what’s going on with COVID. Unfortunately, the pediatrician doesn’t stock it, it’s expensive to order,” said Theresa Tolle, who owns a pharmacy in Florida.

She was recalling a story involving one of her customers who needed to get her daughter a vaccine.

“The Health Department didn’t have it and the mom was losing her mind. Calling everywhere and nobody, no pharmacy can give it because of the laws in our state,” said Tolle.

It’s a story a lot of parents can relate to, especially around back-to-school time. Because of the laws in Florida and many states, Tolle, who is licensed to administer vaccines to adults, wasn’t able to do the same for this young girl.

“Ultimately, what I ended up doing is ordering it for mom, ran it through her insurance, she picked it up, had it taken to the pediatrician to administer,” said Tolle.

For many busy parents, making an additional appointment and taking time off to get their kids a shot can be a headache.

But the Department of Health and Human Services just made a rule change that might make things easier. It allows for pharmacies in every state to administer vaccines to kids aged three to 18.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, after kids turn three, they should still get major immunizations like second doses of the measles, mumps, rubella, polio, tetanus, diphtheria and others. And don’t forget to add an annual flu shot.

“As long as it increases vaccination rates, I think it’s fantastic,” said Dr. Malcolm Anderson.

Anderson works in the Pediatric ICU at the Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children in Colorado. He’s very supportive of the rule change.

“In the pediatric ICU, we only see the children that don’t get vaccinated and then when they get one of the illnesses they would have been protected against. That’s when we see them. So, I think anything that would help them get one of those bad illnesses would be amazing and help the parent avoid the stress and hardship of going through an ICU admission and seeing their kid very ill,” said Anderson.

Before the rule change, 30 states had restrictions on vaccines being administered by pharmacies. Three states, including Florida, did not allow it at all.

But now, pharmacies in all states can give flu shots to kids and adults.

“This fall, they are heavily trying to promote flu shots to try and help protect all patients, all ages,” said Tolle.

“If you’re at the pharmacy refilling your meds every three months or every month, then it’s nice to be like, oh, you’re offering flu shots here, I’m already getting my meds,” said Anderson.

Theresa says she thinks that the rule change could also get the country ready for mass distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine.

“Just COVID vaccine coming. We know little about that right now, but this order in theory would prepare pharmacists to be able to do that,” said Tolle.

Until a COVID-19 vaccine comes, Tolle says she’s just happy to be able to give kids the immunizations they need to stay healthy.