Floridians can now get more vaccines at local pharmacies, thanks to a new state law starting Wednesday.
Signed by Gov. Rick Scott on June 10, House Bill 279 makes new vaccines available to patients at pharmacies, instead of only at doctors’ offices. The new products join influenza and shingles vaccines, which were already available at all local pharmacies.
The newly expanded list now includes vaccinations for Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, TDAP (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, also known as whooping cough), varicella, MMR (measles, mumps and rubella), meningococcal and pneumococcal.
“Access to vaccinations is important for the continued welfare of our communities,” said Senate Health Policy Committee Chairman Aaron Bean. “The inability of Floridians to receive vaccinations puts them, their family members and the wider community at risk,”
The new law increases access, to help keep “all residents and visitors safe and healthy,” said Bean, a Fernandina Beach Republican.
Florida and the nation face an acute physician shortage, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges, with an expected a deficit of up to 90,000 doctors nationwide in the next 10 years.
Although patients are finding it harder to get a doctor, 95 percent of Americans live within five miles of a pharmacy, often with extended hours and some open 24 hours a day.
Providing vaccinations, as well as chronic disease management and preventive medicine, like screenings for diabetes, heart disease, blood pressure and bone density, pharmacists are becoming some of Florida’s most accessible health care providers.