Temple Times Online Edition
    MARCH 17, 2005
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Pennsylvania pharmacists could soon be ‘calling the shots’

Assistant professor of pharmacy practice Charles Ruchalski trains a pharmacy student to draw a vaccine into a syringe.

Adult vaccinations might soon be as convenient as a trip to the local pharmacy.

Pennsylvania legislators are now reviewing a final proposal that would give pharmacists the power to give shots.

About 35 states currently permit pharmacists to administer immunizations. The Pennsylvania legislation would cover people 18 and older only, for such vaccinations as influenza, pneumonia, tetanus, hepatitis A, hepatitis B and travel. According to Charles Ruchalski, assistant professor of pharmacy practice at the School of Pharmacy, the move is intended to offer more options to patients and help reduce healthcare costs.

Granting pharmacists the ability to deliver vaccines would not only increase the number of healthcare professionals who are able to provide such a service, but it would also offer conveniences to consumers such as better hours and more locations.

Other states have found that when immunizations are available from pharmacists, immunization rates improve overall, and interestingly, that doctors end up administering more vaccines. The ultimate goal is to prevent costly hospitalizations resulting from illnesses that vaccinations could have prevented.

Pennsylvania pharmacists would be required to undergo specific training to be certified to deliver immunizations. Temple is currently developing courses to enable pharmacy students and practicing pharmacists to receive this certification, which several Temple pharmacy professors, including Ruchalski, have already obtained.

By Eryn Jelesiewicz