It has become common place to receive an annual flu vaccination at the local pharmacy. That's a good thing because pharmacies can be a low-cost, convenient way to get this kind of routine health care service. Otherwise, certain high-risk Louisianians - like seniors, ethnic minorities, lower-income families, and rural residents - might go without.
So, why shouldn't we expand the types of vaccines that are available at pharmacies to include other dangerous and deadly diseases that affect those same high-risk populations?
That is exactly what Senate Bill 378, introduced by State Senator Fred Mills, will do. This law would allow professional pharmacists in high-risk areas of the state, where there is a shortage of health care professionals, to vaccinate patients against pneumonia and shingles.
That should be a no-brainer. More than 500,000 people in Louisiana get pneumonia each year, which for seniors can be a very dangerous illness. Shingles is also an illness that affects 1 million Americans every year, particular seniors and those with compromised immune systems.
Allowing pharmacists to administer these vaccines will go a long way toward improving public health in Louisiana and ensuring disadvantaged populations have equal access to quality health care. SB 378 should be passed by the state legislature.