HB 394 Letter to the Editor

The following is a Letter to the Editor published in the Columbus Dispatch on Saturday, November 1. This letter was in reference to House Bill 394, which would allow pharmacists to administer vaccines to children down to age 7. The Ohio Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics opposes this legislation.

Ohio’s vaccination rates are dangerously low — 49th in the country — but the problem is not access to vaccines, it’s parental refusal of vaccines.

The number of parents refusing to vaccinate their children doubled in Ohio last year. A June 2014Dispatch analysis showed as many as 1 in 3 new students have parents who oppose vaccines.Allowing families to go to retail pharmacies for needed vaccines, as a letter writer last Saturday suggested, is not the solution and would create a dangerous disruption in primary care, which provides vaccinations as well as important assessments of physical and mental development.Evidence shows the best way to improve rates is a vaccine mandate. After Ohio mandated a tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis vaccine (Tdap) for seventh graders, Ohio’s rate went from 72 percent to 88.8 percent in one year. That’s why the Ohio Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics worked with lawmakers to introduce House Bill 536 earlier this year, which would restore the immunization requirement for children entering a state-regulated child-care facility. Ohio is the only state without this requirement.

Legislation allowing retail pharmacies to vaccinate children must include four components: requiring families to obtain a prescription from the physician to ensure continuity of care; requiring pharmacists to provide guidance about the vaccines to parents and children, including consultations on pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases for the HPV vaccine; requiring pharmacies to enter vaccinations in the state’s immunization registry; and requiring pharmacies to vaccinate participants in the Vaccines for Children Program. This federally funded program provides free vaccines to needy children, and half of Ohio children qualify.

MELISSA WERVEY ARNOLD

Executive director

Ohio chapter

American Academy of Pediatrics

Columbus