North Carolina’s Governor Roy Cooper signed legislation (HB 388) into law that allows children over 10 years of age to receive the influenza vaccine at local pharmacies without being required to see a pediatrician and without a prescription. The law takes effect on Oct. 1, 2019.1 2
The minimum age at which a child is currently allowed to get the flu shot at a local pharmacy in North Carolina is 14. The new law also allows pharmacists to administer flu vaccines to children between six and 10 years of age if they have a doctor’s prescription.2
According to pharmacist Ashley Zande at Waynesville Pharmacy in Waynesville, North Carolina:
People find it a lot more convenient to come to the pharmacy oftentimes because we don’t require an appointment and we’re a lot more easily accessible than the doctors’ offices.3
Dr. Kimberly Bowen adds: “We are very quick about what we do. You don’t have to spend more than 5 minutes in here.”3
The new law also gives pharmacists in North Carolina the authority to administer a flu vaccine to a child six years of age and up if there is a “specific prescription order initiated by a prescriber following the physical examination of the patient by the prescriber.” Pharmacists are also allowed to administer the human papillomavirus vaccine (HPV) and the hepatitis A vaccine to patients over the age of 18.1 4
Currently, pharmacists in North Carolina can administer the following vaccines: pneumococcal polysaccharide or pneumococcal conjugate vaccines, herpes zoster vaccine, hepatitis B vaccine, meningococcal polysaccharide or meningococcal conjugate 26 vaccines and serogroup B meningococcal vaccines, tetanus-diphtheria, tetanus and diphtheria toxoids and pertussis and tetanus and 28 diphtheria toxoids and acellular pertussis, or tetanus toxoid vaccines.1
The growing shift towards giving pharmacists the authority to administer vaccines raises numerous concerns about the role of pharmacists, rather than physicians, in delivering vaccines to the public. There are safety concerns because pharmacists are pressured by corporations owning pharmacies to work faster in order to meet sales quotas.5
Among other safety issues are the lack of a physical exam prior to vaccination in a pharmacy setting and questions about whether pharmacists will consistently provide people with vaccine risk information before vaccines are administered and will effectively monitor, record and report vaccine reactions.
1 House Bill 388. North Carolina General Assembly.
2 Brown EA. New NC law lowers age for pharmacy flu shots, expands vaccines for adults. Citizen Times June 4, 2019.
3 Hodge R. New NC Law Aims to Increase Flu Shots for Kids, Expand Adult Vaccines. ABC13 WLOS June 4, 2019.
4 Ellis E. NCMS Weekly Legislative Update. North Carolina Medical Society May 28, 2019.
5 Parpia R. The Safety Implications of Pharmacists Giving Vaccines. The Vaccine Reaction Apr. 22, 2017.