On Jan. 1 Illinois began requiring all seventh and 12th grade students to receive a meningococcal vaccination. This necessitates adding it to the current list of vaccines pharmacists can administer to those ages 10 to 13 and older without a prescription.
Those in Illinois' most rural and underserved areas often have access to a pharmacy but may have limited access to a doctor's office or clinic. For those living in medically underserved areas (MUAs), pharmacists are of critical importance in preventive care, serving as their nearest health care professional and provider. The need for pharmacists will continue to grow even further in these areas, according to the American Association of Medical Colleges Center, which recently reported America will face a shortage of more than 90,000 doctors in the next decade. This shortfall will most greatly impact the approximately 20 percent of Americans who live in rural or inner-city locations designated as MUAs.
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Students who are required to be vaccinated should have ready access through a visit to their local pharmacy. Current Illinois statute already permits qualified pharmacists to administer the flu vaccination; pharmacists stand ready to assist Illinois families with this new mandate.
Garth Reynolds, RPh
Illinois Pharmacists Association