Governor Kathy Hochul on Tuesday, Nov. 2, signed a bill that would expand the type of vaccinations that licensed pharmacists can administer to patients who are 18 years or older.
The bill (S.4807/A.6476A), which takes effect in 90 days, will allow pharmacists to administer vaccines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) for hepatitis A & B, human papillomavirus, measles, mumps, rubella and varicella.
The new law also makes permanent the ability for licensed pharmacists to administer the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Immunizations are the best tool at our disposal for protecting public health and we must implement every sensible measure to make vaccines widely available,” Hochul said. “With this new law, we are expanding the locations where New Yorkers can go to get vaccines to protect their own health — and the health of their communities.”
Under current law, pharmacists in New York state have been able to administer immunizations for influenza to adults and children, and for COVID-19, pneumococcal, acute herpes zoster, meningococcal, tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis disease, as well as medications required for emergency treatment of anaphylaxis, to adults.
The new law expands the list of immunizations that pharmacists can provide to adults, and requires pharmacists to report the immunizations to the State Department of Health.
Queens lawmakers such as state Senator Toby Stavisky and Assemblywoman Alicia Hyndman, thanked Hochul for passing the legislation, ensuring that communities in New York City will have access to health care services.
“Studies have shown that people intuitively trust their local pharmacist,” Stavisky said. “By allowing pharmacists to administer all vaccines approved by the CDC, we will reduce morbidity and mortality rates and save lives in our most medically underserved communities.”
According to Stavisky and Hyndman, the COVID-19 pandemic brought to light the many inequities in the city’s healthcare system, with low-income and rural communities struggling to access critical health care services.
Earlier this year, Queens lawmakers had advocated for an improved COVID-19 vaccine distribution system and local testing centers for residents’ convenience. According to lawmakers, residents in communities of color had struggled to schedule vaccine appointments and were forced to wait weeks, if not months, before they were able to schedule a vaccine appointment.
According to Hyndman, access to healthcare should be a basic human right.
“In many of our Black and brown communities, local pharmacists are the immediate and most accessible route to care,” Hyndman said. “This legislation is a step in the right direction towards addressing this social justice issue and creating equity for all. I’d like to acknowledge and thank Speaker Heastie and all the advocates who ensured the passage of this legislation.”