HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — A new law in Pennsylvania is allowing pharmacists to give children as young as five their vaccines for COVID-19 and the flu.
U.S. regulators authorized the first COVID-19 shots from Moderna and Pfizer for infants and preschoolers last month.
“We are hearing from a number of pharmacies how grateful parents are. I couldn’t get in, you have it. They were lined up the first day the bill passed,” said Victoria Elliott, CEO of Pennsylvania Pharmacists Association.
Supporters of the law insist it’s about greater convenience for parents who otherwise might not get their kids inoculated.
“The most important outcome for us was access, and so thinking about pharmacies being open, a lot of them 24/7, it’s 7 day a week access,” Elliott added. Parents can call with concerns at any time, even when the pharmacies are closed.
Doctor Mary Ann Rigas, president of Pennsylvania’s chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, says flu shots and COVID-19 vaccines are okay for children five and older, but there needs to be a line.
“I honestly think it’s a push from a business perspective, but not necessarily from a best care perspective,” Rigas added.
Doctor Jason Wolosky, the president of the Pennsylvania Academy of Family Physicians, has concerns about trips to the pharmacy replacing regular doctor visits and screenings.
“Trying to take that three year old to a busy retail pharmacy and stand in line,” Wolosky said. “Our big concern if we allow pharmacists to do all of the childhood immunizations, we’re gonna lose that incentive for parents and guardians to bring the kids in to the clinic.”
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Pharmacists want to expand the law to include all immunizations for children as young as three, saying that fears are unfounded.
“Pharmacists are trained and have the ability to do it, and in many states have the authority to do it,” said Elliott.
The issue of access is hard to argue, as 90% of Americans live within five miles of a pharmacy.