Bill lowers vaccination ageBISMARCK — More North Dakotans may soon be able to go to their local drug store to get their flu shots.
BISMARCK — More North Dakotans may soon be able to go to their local drug store to get their flu shots.
Senate Bill 2035 would lower the age for those allowed to get shots from pharmacists.
Right now, North Dakotans must be 18.
However, state lawmakers are looking to lower the age to 11 for immunizations and vaccinations. Under the bill, residents as young as 5 would be able to get flu shots or mists from a pharmacist.
Sen. Tim Mathern, D-Fargo, said the bill is aimed at increasing access.
“One of the issues that was discussed during the interim was the changing demographics of North Dakota and the importance of using as many health professionals as we can throughout the state to accomplish these immunization goals,” he said. “We just don’t have all of the medical professionals that we want in each community.”
There are now 111 licensed pharmacists and 46 pharmacy students authorized to give immunizations in the state, according to the North Dakota Board of Pharmacy.
In the past six months, pharmacists gave 3,461 doses of vaccine, with about 90 percent being flu shots, said Molly Sander, the state’s immunization program manager. Pharmacists need to be certified to give vaccinations.
Michael Schwab of the North Dakota Pharmacists Association testified in favor of the bill.
“We’re just here to help try and increase immunization rates in the state,” he said.
There are 19 states without age limitations and eight states with an age range below 18, Schwab said.
The North Dakota Medical Association is neutral on the bill, Executive Director Bruce Levi said.
“We do recognize, certainly, alternative venues and want to encourage broader immunization efforts, but the bottom line really was that we were possibly eliminating one good reason why children come in for a well-child visit with their primary care physician,” he said.
He proposed lawmakers amend the bill to require childhood immunizations administered by pharmacists be reported to the state’s immunization information system.
The Senate Human Services Committee approved the amendment and the bill. It now moves to the full Senate.
Finneman is a multimedia reporter for Forum Communications Co.