Idaho considering lower age for pharmacist immunizations

February 29, 2016

Idaho has one of the lowest children’s vaccination rates in the country.

Idaho has one of the lowest children’s vaccination rates in the country, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, with less than 60% of the state’s 2-year-olds’ immunizations up to date.

Some blame the lack of access to healthcare in some rural areas. Others point to the larger-than-average percentage of parents who apply for exemptions, based on medical, religious or philosophical reasons, to allow them to enroll their children in school without immunizations.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2013-14, 1,540 Idaho students attended kindergarten without full immunizations for measles, mumps, and rubella. Most cited philosophical objections.

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State senators here are hoping to solve the healthcare access portion of the problem by authorizing pharmacists to administer flu shots and vaccinations to a wider range of children.

They recently approved a proposal that would allow pharmacists to vaccinate children as young as six (with parental consent). Previously, the age limit was 12.

The bill now goes to the Idaho House of Representatives. The Idaho State Pharmacy Association proposed the bill. Attempts to reach the group for comment were unsuccessful.

 

“There are risks in everything we do. I believe the risks we are taking here are very low [with pharmacists both prescribing and administering vaccinations],” Sen. Dan Schmidt, D-Moscow, a physician, told the Spokesman-Review. “Having good access to ongoing medical care is the best choice for our children, but some don’t have that. And this, in my opinion, is a reasonable choice.”

Not all senators favored the change. Some questioned whether parents would understand that they were not obligated to get immunizations at pharmacies. Others said they believe physicians, not pharmacists, best handle immunizations.

“Six just seemed a little young to me.” Sen. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint, told the newspaper. “At 6 years old, I would feel more comfortable if those immunizations were happening in the pediatrician’s office, where parents could have more time, not feel rushed. And if there were a reaction, kids could get immediate care.”