Expanding state laws and a growing role for pharmacists in vaccination services
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OBJECTIVES: Gaps in vaccination coverage leave populations vulnerable to illnesses. Since the 1990s, there has been a growing movement to improve vaccination access by giving pharmacists the authority to administer vaccines according to state laws. Understanding the variation of pharmacist vaccination laws over time is critical to understanding the effect of improving access to vaccination services. METHODS: We identified relevant statutes and regulations with the use of Westlaw legal databases. A 4-stage coding process identified 220 legal variables of pharmacist vaccination authority. Each jurisdiction's laws were coded against these 220 legal variables. The resulting legal dataset was then evaluated to determine whether jurisdictions expanded or restricted pharmacist vaccination authorities over time. RESULTS: From 1971 to 2016, jurisdictions made 627 changes to statutes and regulations relating to pharmacist vaccination authority. There were 85 expansions, 3 restrictions, and 22 regulatory clarifications. Eight changes were deemed to be unclear, and 479 changes did not substantively alter the scope of pharmacist vaccination authority. CONCLUSION: Collectively, the laws in 50 states and DC paint a clear picture: the scope of pharmacists' vaccination authority is expanding. Jurisdictions are allowing pharmacists to administer more vaccines to younger patients with less direct prescriber oversight. This clear expansion of pharmacist vaccination authority stands in contrast to the reservations expressed by some physician groups for pharmacists as vaccination providers. However, laws in some states still do not permit pharmacists to vaccinate according to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommendations.
author list (cited authors)
Schmit, C. D., & Penn, M. S.