Pharmacy Community Urges Swift Passage of Bill
To Increase Access to Critical, Cost-Effective Immunizations for Texas Children
SB 1013 to be heard today in Texas Senate Health and Human Services Committee
[AUSTIN, TX] — As the Texas Senate Health and Human Services Committee takes up Senate Bill 1013 today, representatives of major Texas pharmacy groups, independent pharmacists and industry experts urge swift passage of the proposed legislation that would increase access to critical and cost-effective immunizations for Texas children. The bill by Senator Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood) would expand the authority of Texas’ highly-qualified and certified pharmacists to administer much-needed vaccines to children over the age of seven.
“Expanding immunization authority for Texas pharmacists would improve the health of Texas children by encouraging more childhood immunizations given the cost-effective and convenient nature of pharmacy-administered immunizations,” said Senator Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood). “Passing SB 1013 is an important step in the effort to improve the health of our communities and reduce health care costs.”
State law currently allows pharmacists, without a prescription, to administer the flu vaccine to anyone over the age of seven. However, pharmacists are only allowed to administer other Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended vaccines – including meningitis, tetanus, diphtheria, whooping cough and other vaccines – to those over the age of 14, unless prescribed by a doctor.
“As a pharmacist serving hundreds of busy families, I see firsthand the growing need to expand access to immunizations for Texas children,” said Mark Newberry pharmacist and owner of Tarrytown Pharmacy in Austin. “For many of my patients, I provide critical health services such as answering general health care questions, filling prescriptions and providing immunizations for adults.”
Similar legislation – House Bill 2938 and House Bill 2222 by Representatives Jodie Laubenberg (R-Parker) and Gene Wu (D-Houston) – has been filed in the Texas House.
“My colleagues and I currently have the opportunity to help improve the health of Texas children by passing SB1013, HB 2938 and HB 2222,” said Representative Laubenberg (R-Parker). “Expanding access for pharmacists to administer immunizations would not only help combat the destructive spread of diseases in our communities, it would also help reduce health care costs down the road.”
“As a mother, I have depended on my local pharmacy for many of my health care needs – including immunizations – for years. The convenience of not having to schedule an appointment, in addition to the extended hours, complements my busy schedule,” said Jane Koble. “Having the ability to take my child to the pharmacist for her required immunizations would be a huge weight off my shoulders.”
A Feb. 2013 Baselice and Associates poll found 87 percent of Texas voters – including 86 percent of Republican voters – agree that “trained pharmacists as well as trained nurses and physicians should be allowed to give immunization shots to children over the age of seven to help more children get the immunizations they need.”
“Texas’ qualified and trusted pharmacists are in an important position to help meet the growing immunization demand for children in their communities, especially in Medically Underserved Areas and Health Provider Shortage Areas where patients have limited access to a doctor’s office,” said Representative Gene Wu (D-Houston). “It is essential that we provide convenient and accessible options for parents to get their children the immunizations they need.”
Immunizations, including those administered by pharmacists, assist in preventing an estimated 14 million cases of vaccine-preventable disease and 33,000 deaths nationwide. According to the CDC, vaccines are considered to be one of the safest, most efficient and cost-effective preventative measures against certain diseases.
“This important legislation will help prevent unnecessary hospital stays and diseases, reduce health care costs and even save lives,” said Joe DaSilva, chief executive officer of the Texas Pharmacy Association. “We continue to work closely with Sen. Taylor and Reps. Laubenberg and Wu and other stakeholders to ensure more Texas children have access to vital immunizations.”