Pre­scrip­tions re­quired for some Ga. flu shots

The Covington News - - Local News -

AT­LANTA — It’s go­ing to be a lit­tle harder to get a flu shot at some Ge­or­gia phar­ma­cies this sea­son.

Sev­eral of the state’s large phar­macy chains said Fri­day they’ll re­quire that each cus­tomer have a pre­scrip­tion from their doc­tor to get a shot. For years now, pa­tients have been able to pay a fee and phar­ma­cist would ad­min­is­ter the shot without the cus­tomer need­ing any pa­per­work.

But a com­plaint filed this year with the Ge­or­gia Board of Phar­macy prompted a sur­pris­ing le­gal de­ci­sion: the flu vac­cine is classified as a danger­ous drug in Ge­or­gia, which means a pre­scrip­tion has been needed all along.

That touched off a flurry of some­times con­tra­dic­tory ad­vice from med­i­cal and phar­macy of­fi­cials in the state and wor­ries that shots would be harder to ob­tain this sea­son.

Gov. Sonny Per­due weighed in, telling phar­ma­cists that they should “con­tinue prior prac­tices” without fear­ing prose­cu­tion.

“For pub­lic health rea­sons, we be­lieve it is im­per­a­tive that phar­ma­cists and oth­ers act as they have in the past,” Per­due said.

“This ad­min­is­tra­tion will not call for sanc­tions against those act­ing in the best in­ter­ests of Ge­or­gians and in a man­ner con­sis­tent with past prac­tices.”

But some of the larger phar­macy chains in the state say they aren’t tak­ing any chances.

Spokes­men for The Kroger Co. and Publix Su­per­mar­kets, which op­er­ate a com­bined 327 phar­ma­cies through­out Ge­or­gia, each said they would now re­quire cus­tomers to have a pre­scrip­tion for a flu shot.

“We are very ap­pre­cia­tive of the gov­er­nor’s sup­port of the flu shot pro­gram,” Publix spokes­woman Brenda Reid said. “How­ever, at this point we will not be able to of­fer flu shots to our cus­tomers without a pre­scrip­tion.

Kroger spokesman Bren­don Cull aid the com­pany was study­ing the rules but, at least for now, a pre­scrip­tion will be re­quired.

CVS Phar­ma­cies, which has about 300 phar­ma­cies through­out the state, will be op­er­at­ing a num­ber of walk-in clin­ics. The shots will be given by a nurse prac- titioner so a pre­scrip­tion won’t be re­quired, spokesman Mike DeAn­ge­lis said.

Phar­macy of­fi­cials are hop­ing the state Leg­is­la­ture will change the law when they re­turn to the state Capi­tol in Jan­uary to make it eas­ier for them to ad­min­is­ter the shots. Un­der the old sys­tem, phar­ma­cists could get a stand­ing or­der from a doc­tor that cleared the way for them to be able to hand out shots en masse.

Ac­cord­ing to the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol most peo­ple — about 34 per­cent — get flu shots from their doc­tors. Seven per­cent re­ceived them at stores or phar­ma­cies, the CDC said.

Each year, in­fluenza causes 200,000 hos­pi­tal­iza­tions and 36,000 deaths, ac­cord­ing to the CDC. The el­derly, young chil­dren and peo­ple with chronic ill­nesses are at great­est risk for se­vere ill­ness, but the CDC rec­om­mends a wide va­ri­ety of peo­ple get vac­ci­nated.

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