Vaccination rates among children under the age of 2 years have been alarmingly low for the past decade, if not more. In the 2011-2012 flu season, only 45 percent of infants aged 7 to 23 months were vaccinated. While compared to the 5 percent rate in 2002-2003, this is step in the right direction, but more needs to be done to continue raising the vaccination rates among infants. In some states, the vaccination rate is as low as 24 percent, meaning that 3 in 4 babies are at risk to influenza. A contributing factor to these low vaccination rates is that for an infant’s first vaccination, they need two doses of the vaccine. Nearly 36 percent of children end up only receiving the first dose and end up not being fully vaccinated.
Pharmacists have already began seeing changes in immunization laws over the past couple years, especially in the restrictions on patient-age. At the beginning of 2015, only 27 states allowed pharmacists to vaccinate patients of any age, while there were 8 states where pharmacists could only vaccinate people older than the age of 18, Pennsylvania being one of them (until June 26th, where a bill was passed lowering the minimum age to 9). These changes can prove to be instrumental in raising vaccination rates across the country. Increasing the access to these immunization services can make a huge impact on the country’s health and encourage more people to stay current on their vaccinations. Hopefully in the near future, legislators will realize the potential of pharmacists immunizing and allow for them to do so all over the country, and not just in select states.