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Louisiana seeks to expand pharmacy's ability to immunize patients

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The Louisiana State Senate passed legislation that would expand the authority given to pharmacists to administer immunizations.

State Sen. Fred Mills Jr., R-22, who serves on the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, is the author of SB 60, which would expand pharmacists' authority to provide immunizations to Louisianans ages 18 years and older against pneumonia, shingles, tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis without a prescription.

"The pharmacists of Louisiana are to be commended for the final senate passage of SB 60, which will enable pharmacists to immunize more patients," Mills said. "As one of the most trusted professions, pharmacists provide high-quality and accessible care to patients. We are pleased with this victory and urge the House to move swiftly to also pass this legislation, and send to the governor to be signed into law."

The legislation is expected to be voted on as early as next week by the Louisiana House of Representatives.

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores on Friday applauded the passage, stating that the bill would help prevent 14 million cases of disease and 33,000 deaths annually.

"Pharmacies are the face of neighborhood healthcare, providing cost-effective, easily accessible and convenient services, such as immunizations," stated NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson. "Pharmacists have the ability to immunize in all 50 states, reducing costs for both patients and the overall healthcare delivery system."

Many Americans remain unvaccinated and susceptible to vaccine-preventable diseases. An Institute of Medicine report estimated that more than 50,000 adults and 300 children in the United States die each year from vaccine-preventable diseases or their complications.

Anderson added, "Enabling pharmacists to provide important vaccine services to more Americans will serve important public health goals by providing a convenient and cost-effective option for receiving the recommended vaccines and immunizations. Expanding immunization authority is an excellent use of pharmacists, who are highly educated healthcare professionals."

To sit for pharmacy board licensure exams, candidates must have a Doctor of Pharmacy degree (PharmD), which requires a minimum of six years of professional education.

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