New law allows pharmacists to offer more immunizations

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A new law now in effect makes it easier for Hoosiers to get the immunization shots they need.

Pharmacists have been offering the flu and shingles vaccine under guidelines approved by a physician before. Starting July 1, they’re also able to give vaccinations for pneumonia, tetanus, diphtheria, acellular pertussis, HPV infections and meningitis.

The new law lowers the age limit of children getting vaccines from pharmacists from 14 to 11 years old. Pharmacy students are also allowed to administer immunizations under the supervision of a professional.

“It will probably get more busy definitely,” said Joanna Bergum, pharmacy manager at Marsh Supermarket. “Tetanus and pertussis, or Tdap vaccinations, are ones that a lot of people are not getting and not keeping up with on their vaccination records.”

Marsh’s 40 pharmacies began offering flu shots for the first time this season. Staff say adding more to their load will not only help in business, but also make healthcare more accessible.

According to the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, 22 percent of the state’s children do not get the required vaccines by their 2nd birthday.

“It could be an awareness thing. It could be an accessibility thing. People don’t like to go to their doctor’s office just for a vaccination,” said Bergum.

Experts say it may be the faster, cheaper option. Some parents say they would rather consult a doctor first depending on the shot.

“If I’m out with my daughter going to the grocery store and if I needed to get that vaccine, maybe it would be a little easier,” said Celeste Salimi, a parent and nurse practitioner. “I would think providers in a general clinic would give more information than pharmacies.”

Under the new legislation, lawmakers are also required to learn about adult and children’s immunization issues.