Letter: A new requirement

To the Editor:

As of Jan. 1, Illinois requires that all sixth- and 12th-grade students receive a meningococcal vaccination. 

This necessitates adding it to the current list of vaccines pharmacists can administer to those 10 to 13 years of age 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, pharmacists are of critical importance in preventative care, serving as their nearest health care professional and provider.

The need for pharmacists will continue to grow even further in these areas. The Association of American Medical Colleges Center for Workforce Studies recently reported that America will face a shortage of more than 90,000 doctors by 2020.  

This shortfall will most greatly impact the Americans who live in rural or inner-city locations designated as medically underserved areas. 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

Executive director of the Illinois

Pharmacists Association