I wish to congratulate the state legislature and the administration of Gov. Pat Quinn on their timely compromise allowing pharmacists to vaccinate children ages 10 and up. Widening the pool of health professionals authorized to administer vaccines will ensure that more school-age children and adolescents are immunized against serious illnesses. The pharmacy community -- including member pharmacies of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association -- was pleased to work with the medical community and lawmakers to craft a proposal workable for all. This is an example where Springfield got it right.
Expanding access to vaccinations is critically important now, as Illinois is experiencing a resurgence in outbreaks of pertussis (commonly referred to as whooping cough) in schoolchildren. The disease is a serious, flu-like illness that can cause fractured ribs and other complications from violent coughing fits. It is life threatening for some children, especially young infants, so it is important that all children be vaccinated to prevent its spread. Booster shots are needed for older children as immunity to whooping cough wears off over time.
Beginning in the next school year, all public school students entering sixth and ninth grades will have to receive a Tdap booster to protect against whooping cough, diphtheria and tetanus in order to attend school. Allowing pharmacists to vaccinate children gives parents a convenient, inexpensive way to meet this new requirement. The pharmacy community is looking forward to collaborating with pediatricians and parents to ensure that all children and adolescents get the vaccines they need to stay healthy and stay in school.
President and CEO
Illinois Retail Merchants Association