BANGOR, Maine — Roll up your sleeve.
Under the provisions of a new law signed into effect on Wednesday by Gov. John Baldacci, your local pharmacist soon will be able to administer common vaccinations against seasonal influenza, pneumonia, tetanus, whooping cough, shingles and more.
“Maine has become the 50th state in the union to allow pharmacists to participate in immunization programs,” said Bill Miller, owner of Miller Drug in Bangor. “There’s nothing negative about this.”
Miller said he didn’t know of any particular roadblock that has prevented Maine from expanding pharmacists’ scope of practice to include immunization.
“I just think no one ever submitted a bill before,” he said.
Bill sponsor Rep. George Hogan, D-Old Orchard Beach, said a tourist vacationing in his hometown suggested that Maine join the other 49 states in allowing pharmacists to give routine shots.
“I didn’t know that Maine was the only state in the country that doesn’t allow pharmacists to immunize in some fashion,” Hogan said.
Especially for the elderly and for people living in rural areas, Hogan said, the opportunity to get a flu shot, a tetanus booster or other routine immunization at the local drug store will be a boon.
The bill requires pharmacists who wish to participate in the program to undergo specialized training. It limits them to immunizing individuals 9 years old and older.
The measure requires a doctor’s prescription, except in cases where an individual doesn’t have an established physician or other medical provider. It calls for the state Board of Pharmacy to craft a treatment protocol for administering vaccines to people who don’t have a doctor and authorizes pharmacists to bill insurers for the cost of the vaccine.
In most cases, individuals will need to pay an administration fee to the participating pharmacy.