Updated Dec. 13, 2013
TRENTON – Children under 18 cannot currently receive flu vaccines at New Jersey pharmacies, but a bill approved today by the state Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee would change that if it becomes law.
“By allowing parents to walk into a pharmacy or drug store and get their children vaccinated against the flu, we can increase the number of kids who are protected from getting sick each year,” said state Sen. Joseph Vitale (D-Middlesex), chairman of the Senate Health Committee. “The flu can be horribly uncomfortable for kids, and can have them missing important days in school. By making these shots more available and accessible, we are giving parents less of an excuse for not getting their kids vaccinated against the flu virus. This will help to keep all of our kids healthier during the flu season.”
The bill, S-2567, would permit pharmacists to administer an influenza vaccination to children over the age seven. Children between the ages of seven and 11 would be required to have a prescription from their doctor in order to receive the flu shot at a pharmacy.
According to Target’s Associate Medical Director, Dr. Kevin Ronneberg, 54 percent of guests who received a flu shot at Target did not intend to receive one during their shopping trip. Encouraged by those numbers, Vitale hopes that by expanding who can receive flu vaccinations at their local drugstore or pharmacy, more people will be inclined to become inoculated against the virus.
The Centers for Disease Control recommend that all children over the age of 6 months receive a flu vaccine each year to avoid serious illness. In the 2012-2013 influenza season, 165 children in the US died from flu-related illnesses.
If signed into law, this bill would make New Jersey the 31st state to allow pharmacist to immunize patients age seven and older against the flu.
The bill was approved by the Committee with a vote of 9-0. It now heads to the Senate floor for consideration.
Editor’s note: This version corrects a previous one that incorrectly reported a statistic about people who received flu shots at Target.
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