Immunizing Influenza A H1N1

May 2, 2009 by  

Sorry to disappoint but, unfortunately, there is no vaccine protection against the newest strain of Influenza A H1N1 – the swine flu virus – yet.   But when the vaccine comes on line in the next six months, it will likely be added to the CDC adult immunization list (like the regular flu vaccine).

 

But more importantly for Arizona, if HB 2164 passes (see Barto Bills on Legislation Page), it would mean that certified pharmacists would likely have the ability to administer the vaccine to adults without a prescription, thus expanding heatlthcare access to the public at a time of critical need.  See article: http://www.eastvalleytribune.com/story/138615

Currently, pharmacists certified to administer immunizations may only do so with a prescription.  But physicians are becoming more supportive of increasing the pharmacists’ role for several reasons:

 –  Reduced Morbidity.   Currently only about 1/3 of patients have a primary care physician.  Pharmacists, on the other hand, are easily accessible, which can significantly raise immunization rates for influenza, pneumonia, shingles and other preventable diseases.

 –  Vaccine-Challenged Physicians.  Recent changes in Medicare regulations make it difficult for physicians to bill, leading many to not stock vaccines.  This creates inconvenience for patients who then must either go to the pharmacy with a Dr.’s prescription or return to the doctor’s office.  Pharmacies, who already bill under Medicare Part D, can easily file claims for compensation – making the experience more convenient for both patients and physicians.

The bill passed a preliminary floor vote in the House and should enjoy bi-partisan support as it continues through the process – after the budget, of course!

Swine Flu Facts:  So far there are 141 confirmed cases nationwide, four in Arizona, three elementary school closures and according to the AZ. Dept. of Health, there are sure to be more after many other suspected cases are tested.  The bad news is the virus is spreading. The good news is that, with the exception of one victim traveling to Texas from Mexico, no others who have contracted the disease outside of Mexico have died.  The other good news is schools will no longer be recommended for closure since the disease seems no more severe than more common flu strains.

Check out these websites for more key facts and  flu updates: http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/key_facts.htm.

http://www.azdhs.gov/

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