More people are going to the store to get their flu shot than ever before. All 50 states now allow pharmacists to give the vaccine. The national trend is to offer even more immunizations, like hepatitis and tetanus at local pharmacies and many doctors are hoping New York doesn’t follow the trend.
Flu shots allow Jacqueline Pacello to take a break from filling prescriptions and spend more one-on-one time with customers.
"I feel like it's so busy sometimes behind the counter. We don't get to do that. So, it's really enjoyable for us, as a pharmacist too, to get to give the shots,” Pacello said.
Right now, based on New York State regulations, Jacqueline can give out flu shots and pneumonia shots. At other Rite Aids, in other states, they're allowed to give out 12 immunizations and Jacqueline hopes New York jumps on board.
Beyond flu shots, Dr. Jeffrey Sneider with the NYS Medical Society calls the idea “big box healthcare.”
"Part of the reason healthcare costs are going up is the fragmentation of care. So that one person does one little thing and gets paid a lot of money for it. The pharmacies have figured out a way to make money giving shots," Dr. Sneider said.
In 1998, five percent of adults were vaccinated for the flu in stores. Today, that number has reached over 18 percent with all states allowing pharmacists to give the shot. Proponents argue accessibility will encourage more people to get immunizations, a key goal in avoiding outbreaks.
Doctors argue the risk for miscommunication is too high.
"If we had a really good online medical record in the cloud...then the pharmacy could report that they gave a flu shot, I could report it, and it would all go to the same place. But right now, that record doesn't exist,” Dr. Sneider continued.
With or without that record, the debate will continue, as the national trend picks up steam
Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed a bill allowing pharmacists to continue giving the flu and pneumonia shots for the next four years. By some estimates, more than a million immunizations were given in New York's pharmacies over the past year. ~ .9wsyr.com ~