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Immunization expansion legislation passes Ohio House!

We’re pleased to report that HB 394, immunization access expansion legislation sponsored by Rep. Ryan Smith (R-Bidwell) & Rep. Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood), has passed out of the House Health & Aging Committee and on Wednesday passed the Ohio House by a vote of 82-7! The bill would allow pharmacists and pharmacy interns to administer all CDC-recommended vaccines to patients who are 7 years of age and older. 

All 50 states now allow pharmacists to immunize patients at varying ages, with 38 allowing pharmacists to vaccinate patients under the age of 18. Pharmacists and pharmacy interns go through six to eight years of education and receive more pharmacological training than any other health care professional. Through their extensive coursework, mandatory passage of a State Board of Pharmacy-approved immunization training program, and annual Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) training, pharmacists are more than qualified to help Ohio improve its immunization rates.

This is important because nationally, only 41.8% of children at age 11-12 receive their vaccinations at a provider (physician) visit. In Ohio, this rate drops to 38.6%. In the August 2013, CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, immunization rates among 13-17 year-olds for the recommended two varicella vaccine doses was 74.9% nationally, but in Ohio it was 62% (that makes us #41 out of 52 US states and territories). The rate among 13-17 year-olds for > one dose of Tdap (tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis) was 84.6% nationally and 73.8% in Ohio (that makes us #45 out of 52). The meningococcal immunization rate among 13-17 year-olds nationally was 74% and in Ohio 66.4% (that makes us #31 out of 52). The rate of 13-17 year-old females receiving three doses of the HPV vaccine nationally was 33.4% and 31.9% in Ohio (that makes us #39 out of 52).

Also, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Ohio currently has more than 650 areas designated as medically underserved areas, meaning there are not enough primary care services for residents of those areas. Many counties have no pediatricians, and many doctor’s offices have stopped carrying the vaccines. Pharmacists are perfectly positioned to fill in those gaps.

With Ohio facing several outbreaks over the past year the time to act is now. Many reports showed that this season's flu outbreak was one of the most severe yet, with several deaths reported in Northwest Ohio and throughout the state. Pertussis was also a huge problem over the last year, forcing entire schools to shut down. And just recently, a mumps outbreak that began at Ohio State University has spread to 116 people in central Ohio.

Because pharmacies are the most accessible health care providers in the state, pharmacists and pharmacy interns are uniquely positioned to compliment the efforts that doctors, nurses, pediatricians, and health departments are already doing to ensure that Ohio is immunizing as many individuals as possible. With convenient hours and locations, pharmacies can help cure Ohio's ailing immunization rates.

Here’s a link to the text of the bill along with a list of co-sponsors:

To see how your representative voted, click here: 

Rep. Smith & Rep. Antonio's sponsor testimony was followed by proponent testimony from Tara Green, Pharmacist and Clinical Coordinator, Kroger Columbus Division; Erin Rogers, Student Pharmacist, University of Cincinnati James L. Winkle College of Pharmacy; Gene Nixon, Health Commissioner, Summit County Public Health; Mary Beth Shirk, Specialty Practice Pharmacist in Emergency Medicine, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center; Amy Lee, Professor, Northeast Ohio Medical University and Program Director, Consortium of Eastern Ohio Master of Public Health; Thomas Quade, Marion County Health Commissioner; Angela Guinn, Pharmacy District Manager, Rite Aid; Cortney Mospan, Community Care Pharmacy Practice Resident, The Ohio State University & Uptown Pharmacy; Lora Miller, Ohio Council of Retail Merchants; Nate Filler, President of the Ohio Grocer's Association; Walgreens; Target; CVS Caremark; Meijer; and Families Fighting the Flu.

OPA would like to thank the countless numbers of pharmacists and student pharmacists who contacted their representatives in support of the bill. We would also like to thank the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants and the Ohio Society of Health-System Pharmacists for their extensive support on the effort. Further, we'd like to thank Mike Doherty and the University of Cincinnati College of Pharmacy for their work in getting the ball rolling on the concept for the bill. Lastly, we want to thank Ohio's colleges of pharmacy for coordinating letter-writing campaigns, advocacy alerts to students, and for assisting with the OPA Student Legislative Day.

This would not be possible without all of your support!

To view the discussion of the bill on the House floor, click here: 

Here is a news story covering passage of the bill: 

We ask that you please take a moment to thank your representative for their support for HB 394. You can locate your representative here: 

Now it’s onto the Senate! This will not be an easy fight - we anticipate high opposition in the Senate, so we need your help to get this bill over the hump! Let your senator know that pharmacists and pharmacy interns are more than qualified to fill in health care gaps:


Please consider financial support of our legislative efforts by contributing to the OPA Pharmacy PAC.  100% of Pharmacy PAC money contributed by pharmacists goes to help candidates who support pharmacy in Ohio.

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