Push for greater immunization authority

When it announced its fourth-quarter and fiscal year 2013 earnings in April, Rite Aid noted that it performed 2.4 million flu vaccinations, as well as 400,000 vaccinations for pneumonia, shingles and whooping cough. Walgreens administered more than 6.5 million immunizations in 2012, and CVS' totals reached more than 3.5 million.

Suffice it to say, pharmacy retailers have grown rapidly to become a popular destination for a medical service that was once limited to physician offices and clinics. But while pharmacists in all 50 states can administer vaccinations, local regulations vary — some restrict pharmacist-administered vaccinations by age, while others can vaccinate against diseases like hepatitis A and B, under certain conditions.

In late April, Pharmacy Choice and Access Now marked World Immunization Week and urged expansion of immunization authority for pharmacists as a way to increase access to them for patients. In March, Wyoming's state senate passed a bill to allow pharmacists to prescribe and administer vaccinations to patients ages 7 years and older. In May, legislation in Pennsylvania to expand the range of vaccinations pharmacists can give got support from doctors.

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