Pharmacy Access Coalition Lauds Passage of Bill Expanding Vaccine Access

S.B. 378 will increase access to critical vaccines that protect against pneumonia and shingles – particularly in the state’s underserved communities, effective August 1

Louisiana – Pharmacy Choice and Access Now (PCAN) today applauded the Louisiana State Legislature for passing and Governor Bobby Jindal for signing into law Senate Bill 378, authored by Senator Fred Mills. The new law expands access to critical vaccines that protect against pneumonia and shingles – particularly in the state’s underserved communities – and takes effect August 1.

“I am very pleased our elected officials not only recognize the importance of vaccine access, but have taken steps to expand access for Louisianians,” said Ryan Dartez, an independent pharmacist who testified before the Senate Health & Welfare Committee regarding the bill. “Vaccinations can help protect against illnesses like pneumonia and shingles that can be life-threatening – especially for the very young, the elderly and populations with compromised immune systems. Expanding access is an important step toward helping our state become healthier.”

Vaccines that fight shingles (varicella zoster vaccine) and pneumonia (pneumococcal vaccine) are recommended for children, adolescents and adults in the United States, according to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice (ACIP) and the State of Louisiana. S.B. 378 expands access to these important vaccines to residents that are 18 years or older in any of the state’s parishes containing Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs).

Of Louisiana’s 64 parishes, 40 are designated as rural areas by the federal Office of Management and Budget and areas in all 40 rural parishes in Louisiana are designated as HPSAs by the federal Shortage Designation Branch. Many of Louisiana’s 7,000 licensed pharmacists are located in HPSAs, and are ready and able to increase the vaccination rates in these areas.

“In addition to improving health, immunizations can help combat rising health care costs and can generally improve one’s quality of life,” Dartez continued. “Access is critical, so a big thanks to all who played a role in expanding access in Louisiana.”

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