Vaccination exemption controversy may doom pharmacists’ flu shot proposal

Health

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The Centers for Disease Control always emphasizes that the flu is most dangerous to the very old and the very young.

In 2018, three children died of flu-related complications in Connecticut. Adding to that issue is that a proposal to make it easier for kids to get flu shots appears to be stalled.

Despite a favorable vote in the Public Health Committee, a proposal to allow pharmacists to give flu shots to kids died in the State Senate this year and the prospects for the next session don’t look very good either.

Connecticut is one of just three states that restrict pharmacists to only giving flu shots to people age 18 and over. Almost all other states allow pharmacists to give shots to kids.

In Massachusetts, it’s 12 and older, while some states allow it for kids as young as 2.

Connecticut Pharmacists Association CEO Nathan Tinker notes, “Even the CDC says that allowing pharmacists to do this expands access for patients, especially in low income and secondary communities.”

But in the General Assembly session that begins in February, the highest priority public health issue is expected to be the repeal of nonmedical exemptions for pre-kindergarten vaccinations for measles, mumps, and rubella because just released statistics show an alarming decline in those
vaccination rates and that may be a problem.

Tinker is making this prediction: “I think the religious exemption bill that certainly is going to be coming up is going to have a big impact on the ability for other vaccination-related issues to move through.”

Two of the organizers that help turn out large crowds for any vaccination-related hearings told News 8 they oppose the pharmacists’ bill as well.

Some have also said that pharmacists may not be trained enough to recognize unusual reactions to the shots.

“They have to have a certification in order to give vaccines in the first place and to do immunizations and that certification has to be followed up every year in continuing education courses around immunization,” Tinker said.

Supporters of the pharmacists’ proposal say being able to have children get a flu shot at a local pharmacy would naturally lead to higher immunization rates, which should lead to less flu.

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