Published Online: Tuesday, April 1, 2008

With influenza cases on the rise in New York City, the city's health department is urging New York state lawmakers to pass a bill allowing pharmacists to administer flu and pneumonia vaccines.

The city health department projects that passage of the bill could increase the number of city seniors who get the shots by 50,000 or more.

"The more places flu shots are available, the more likely people are to get one," noted Jane Zucker, MD, assistant commissioner for the health department's immunization bureau. "Pharmacies are a natural place to reach those at high risk of hospitalization and death from the disease."

The pending legislation would allow pharmacists to immunize individuals 18 years and older, after certifying completion of a federally approved course. Maine and West Virginia are the only other states where pharmacists currently cannot immunize, although last month the West Virginia legislature passed a bill authorizing pharmacists to administer vaccines to persons 18 years of age and older, after completing education and training approved by the state's board of pharmacy.

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