November 21, 2012
NY Pharmacists Allowed to Administer Tetanus Shots in Sandy’s Wake

Albany, NY—In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order allowing pharmacists to administer tetanus vaccines in areas of the state that suffered significant damage.

The executive order signed by the governor allows pharmacists as well as dentists and emergency medical technicians to provide the vaccines in response to concerns that clean-up efforts increase the risk of contracting the fatal infection.

“It is critical that people performing cleanup work after the storm take all necessary health precautions, including getting a tetanus vaccination if needed. The order will help to make the process easier and faster for those in storm-affected areas,” Cuomo said in a statement. He said many local pharmacies and public health clinics had the booster shots available.

Emergency responders, volunteers, and residents were strongly urged to get tetanus shots if they had not received one in the last decade.

The executive order allows pharmacists already certified to provide vaccinations “to administer tetanus toxoid containing vaccines, including those also containing diphtheria and pertussis vaccine, to persons 18 years of age or older within the federally declared counties.”

Without the executive order, pharmacists in New York who are certified to immunize can administer influenza, pneumococcal, and acute herpes zoster vaccinations to adults 18 years of age or older. The first two can be provided with nonpatient-specific orders from a physician or nurse practitioner while herpes zoster, approved for pharmacist administration as of October, requires a patient-specific prescription.

According to the CDC, tetanus toxoid is available as a single-antigen preparation, combined with diphtheria toxoid as pediatric diphtheria-tetanus toxoid (DT) or adult tetanus-diphtheria (Td), and with both diphtheria toxoid and acellular pertussis vaccine as DTaP or Tdap.

Tetanus toxoid should be given in combination with diphtheria toxoid, since periodic boosting is needed for both antigens, according to the CDC. Two brands of Tdap are available: Boostrix (approved for persons 10-64 years of age) and Adacel (approved for persons 11-64 years of age).

DTaP and Tdap vaccines do not contain thimerosal as a preservative.

Some neighboring states already allow pharmacists to offer Tdap boosters. Among those are New Jersey and Pennsylvania, according to an industry press release earlier this year, which said pharmacists also can offer the vaccine in California, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

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