ALBANY, NY (09/05/2008)(readMedia)-- The American Lung Association of New York today commended Governor David Paterson for signing into law a measure that enables licensed pharmacists to administer influenza (flu) and pneumococcal (pneumonia) immunizations. Sponsored by Senator Fuschillo and Assemblywoman Paulin, the law increases the availability of potentially lifesaving vaccines to vulnerable New Yorkers.
"You can find a pharmacy on almost every street corner and now, you will be able to receive a flu shot on almost every street corner," said Michael Seilback, Vice President, Public Policy & Communications. "Increasing access to vaccinations will help reduce the incidence of preventable respiratory illnesses, such as the flu and pneumonia."
Allowing pharmacists to immunize is quickly becoming the standard of care in this country. New York now joins the other forty eight states nationwide that allow pharmacists to administer vaccinations.
Across the nation, states that allow pharmacists to vaccinate have witnessed higher influenza vaccination rates. In fact, 18- to 64-year-olds are 27 percent more likely to be vaccinated, and those over 65 are 22 percent more likely to be vaccinated. Moreover, influenza vaccination rates among those over age 65 grew at triple the rate in states that allow pharmacists to provide vaccinations (10.7 percent increase) compared with states that did not (3.5 percent increase).
"Significant disparities exist for access to influenza vaccinations across New York State, leaving our most vulnerable populations at greatest risk," added Seilback. "Pharmacies that offer vaccinations can provide additional, convenient and accessible locations to help address these disparities."
Pharmacists offer a natural entry point for vaccinating individuals who are at high-risk for influenza and its complications. People at elevated risk, for example, those with chronic conditions, regularly see their pharmacist to refill prescriptions, providing an opportunity for flu vaccination.
In New York and throughout the U.S., virtually all vaccine-preventable deaths occur in adults. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that 36,000 people in the United States die annually from influenza and an additional 200,000 are hospitalized every year. Most of those deaths occur among people age 65 and older. People over 65 who are immunized against flu experience 20 percent fewer cardiac- and stroke-related hospitalizations, 30 percent fewer hospitalizations for pneumonia or other influenza complications, and 50 percent lower risk of death from all causes during flu season. Thus, the majority of these deaths are preventable and unnecessary.