New York Governor Tackles Flu Epidemic Through Increased Pharmacist Involvement

An executive order allows New York pharmacists to administer the influenza vaccine to children.

At the end of January, New York Gov Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order that allows pharmacists to administer influenza vaccines to pediatric patients aged 2 to 18 years. The order serves to increase access and convenience for individuals seeking vaccination against the flu, according to a press release.

At the time the legislation was signed, there were nearly 8000 confirmed cases of the flu and approximately 2000 state residents have been hospitalized. Cuomo said that confirmed cases of the flu continue to rise.

Cuomo also urged the state Department of Health to expand New York’s influenza advertising campaign to target the most hard-hit areas.

"With flu cases reaching epidemic proportions in New York, we must do everything in our power to fight this virus and keep New Yorkers safe," Cuomo said in the release. "Once again, I urge all New Yorkers to help us combat this quick-spreading strain of flu and make sure they and their loved ones are vaccinated."

The executive order suspends a section of the New York state education law, which prohibits pharmacists from administering vaccines to patients under age 18, according to the release. Under the order, pharmacists will be able to administer vaccines to patients 2 years and older.

However, children aged 6 months to 24 months are advised to receive the vaccination from their primary care provider, according to the release.

“With the recent flu outbreak affecting communities across the state, this measure will expand access to specially trained pharmacists who are able to provide flu vaccinations to children and their family members,” Mike Duteau, president, Chain Pharmacy Association, said in the release. “Pharmacists are one of the most accessible community healthcare providers, often open nights and weekends.”

Since the executive order was signed, Cuomo reported that more than 6300 vaccinations have been administered at pharmacies.

Additionally, Cuomo recently advanced an amendment to encourage pharmacies to participate in the New York State Vaccines for Children Program. This initiative ensures that individuals are able to receive vaccines regardless of their ability to pay for it, according to a press release.

Individuals younger than 19 years are eligible to receive a vaccine if they are uninsured, under insured, enrolled in Medicaid or Child Health Plus, or are Native American or Alaska Native, which are vulnerable populations, according to the release.

"As flu diagnoses continue to grow, we must do everything we can to ensure all New Yorkers have access to the flu vaccine to protect them now and in the future," Cuomo said in the release. "I urge all New Yorkers to protect themselves and their families, get a flu shot and join us in stamping out the spread of this dangerous virus."