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(TRENTON) - Bipartisan legislation sponsored on the Democratic side by Assemblyman Ruben J. Ramos, Jr. to help combat the flu by making vaccination more accessible was approved by an Assembly panel on Thursday.
Under current law, pharmacists are only permitted to administer vaccines to patients who are 18 years of age and older. The bill (A-3251) approved today would permit pharmacists to administer pediatric vaccines to children who are 12 years of age and older.
"Anyone who's been sick this season knows how difficult it can be to get a doctor's appointment when they're inundated with flu patients," said Ramos (D-Hudson). "This bill would help families take preventive measures to protect their children from the flu by making vaccinations more easily available to anyone in the general population who wishes to get one."
Ramos noted that the bill respects vaccination choice, while amending statutory language to conform to regulations permitting a pharmacist to administer vaccines and related emergency medications pursuant to a physician's prescription, in immunization programs implemented pursuant to a physician's standing order, or in government-sponsored immunization programs that are not patient specific.
"With emergency rooms across the region being inundated this season, we should be doing everything we can to help prevent the spread of the flu and minimize the public health risk," added Ramos. "Licensed pharmacists are already highly qualified to provide vaccines to adults so it makes perfect sense to allow them to administer it to teens as well."
This bill does not alter the education, documentation, and other requirements set forth by the New Jersey State Board of Pharmacy and the State Board of Medical Examiners, which must be met for a pharmacist to administer vaccines directly to patients. Existing statutory language permits the two boards to jointly issue rules that would impose additional requirements for a pharmacist to be permitted to administer a vaccine to a minor.
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"When you're asked to cast a vote on a bill and it seems innocuous, and it's got a hidden land mine that perhaps only an expert would see, it would sort of behoove those experts to tell us in advance rather than make us look, shall we say, a little bit indecisive later on." - Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll (R-25).- NJTV
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