Here’s a way to save time and decrease costs for the U.S. healthcare system: Reform federal law to allow pharmacists to administer all vaccines recommended by the CDC.
That is the contention of the Pacific Research Institute, a free-market thinktank based on the West Coast. Click here to download a copy of the study.
“Adult vaccines can improve people’s health, but our nation’s vaccine rates are unacceptably low. Making vaccines more accessible and less expensive will help reverse this trend,” said Wayne Winegarden, PhD, who wrote “Promoting Access and Lowering Costs in Health Care.”
The article argues that too many Americans are sickened, hospitalized, or killed each year from vaccine-preventable diseases. It adds that adult vaccination rates are too low. An example cited is that the target vaccination rate for the pneumonia vaccine for patients aged 65 years or older is 90%, but fewer than 64% of older Americans current have received the vaccine.
“Right now, pharmacists are subject to a patchwork of laws in each state that are effectively barriers to vaccines being administered at neighborhood pharmacies,” Winegarden wrote. “While flu shots are readily available, other commonly-prescribed vaccines such as the shingles vaccine or pneumococcal pneumonia, are not. This access barrier exists even though pharmacists receive vaccination training in their pharmacy school education.”
The study contends the following:
• Reforming the system would increase vaccination rates and would allow patients to obtain vaccines at more convenient hours, such as lunchtime, evenings, or weekends.
• Pharmacies administer vaccines at lower costs than physicians’ offices and medical clinics. For example, one study found that it costs $208.72 on average to receive a shingles vaccine at a doctor’s office, versus $168.50 at a pharmacy.
• Reform would let patients get vaccines much closer to their homes or offices, as pharmacies are typically just a short drive away. It also could improve healthcare access in remote areas without physicians.
“In many states, outdated state laws unjustifiably limit patients’ access to vaccinations from providers who may be more convenient and less expensive,” Winegarden said in a PRI press release. “By reforming the laws, patients can get their next shingles or pneumonia shot at their neighborhood pharmacy—and save money, too!”
The study points out that while nearly all states now allow pharmacists to administer all or almost all vaccines, including routine adult vaccines like herpes zoster and pneumococcal and travel vaccines, that authority generally is restricted. Since 2012, seven states have allowed pharmacists to administer all vaccines, according to the report.