Pharmacies should be allowed to vaccinate

Pharmacies should be allowed to vaccinate

State-by-state laws are patchy

 

I recently learned about the not-so-secret war on the ability of drugstore pharmacies to dispense vaccinations. I live in Washington state, where pharmacies can dispense all manner of vaccinations. 
 
Here in Washington, pharmacies are a cheap, effective, and convenient way to get a shot. I don't have a primary care physician (I only barely have health insurance) and I'm sure not going to set foot into a doctor's office just to get a vaccination. Every year I get a flu shot at the local Safeway pharmacy. In the last five years I have gotten two separate tetanus vaccinations at the local Walgreen's pharmacy. 
 
Pharmacies are open far longer hours, with most pharmacies available on weekends and after work. The vaccine costs the same per shot, but you don't have the cost overhead of going to the doctor's office. Just walking into a doctor's office starts the fees clock running, and who wants to pay a bunch of extra money just for a dang flu shot? Plus, the wait is typically far shorter at a pharmacy. I have never had to wait more than five minutes to get a shot.
 
I was blown away to learn that in most states, pharmacies have been hobbled, and you have to actually go to the doctor in order to get a vaccination. I'm sure they mean this for the best, even though it does raise the "nanny state" issue. But of course, a lot of money is being thrown at this issue - from both directions.
 
Considering that vaccinations are a cheap and effective means of protecting the populace and preventing the spread of disease, I would think states would want to make it as easy as possible for people to get vaccinations. That seems like a no-brainer to me. Why NOT let people get a flu shot when they stop in to buy groceries or fill a prescription?
 
The idea that pharmacists should give out vaccines began in the mid-90s, thanks to Donna Shalala who was the secretary of Health and Human Services at the time. Shalala saw that it could be a cheap and effective way to get more vaccines out there to the public, particularly to populations (like the rural and uninsured0 who are under-served by the medical community. 
 
Doctors are pushing back because many of them "rely on the flu shot as a way to get patients in" for other services like blood pressure and cholesterol screenings. We know! That's why we don't want to go! Just let us get our flu shots at the pharmacy, it's for the greater good.