Dr. Nabila Ahmed-Sarwar of Highland Family Medicine discussed how an Executive Order by Governor Cuomo is helping New York pharmacists play a key role in the fight against the flu this winter Thursday during News 8 at Sunrise.
“In the past decade or so pharmacists have been immunizing for the flu vaccine in New York State,” said Dr. Ahmed-Sarwar. “With the Executive Order, it has expanded the population that we can immunize. In the past it was limited to adults, and this year the Governor has now allowed us to immunize children all the way up until the end of February to expand and help with the crisis that we are having with the flu this year.”
Pharmacists can immunize children as young as two years old. The hope is to increase the number of people vaccinated against the flu, which has sent hundreds to the hospital in Monroe County alone, including eight deaths as of this writing. “The impact is to be able to make that vaccine accessible to individuals that it may not necessarily have been accessible to,” Dr. Ahmed-Sarwar said. “If we think back and look at 2007, based off of information received with the Centers for Disease Control, we know that the rate for patients being immunized for influenza was approximately 33 percent. At that time only 40,000 pharmacists were certified to immunize throughout the U.S. That number has gone up significantly. Looking at 2015, we’re close to more like 45 percent of adults being immunized with over 300,000 pharmacists immunizing across the U.S. today.”
Dr. Ahmed-Sarwar noted a pharmacist must be certified to administer a vaccine. “In order to be certified, pharmacists undergo additional training. That training includes knowledge on vaccines, vaccine preventable diseases, administration techniques and emergency response, including CPR training. In order to immunize in New York, a pharmacist must register with the New York State Department of Education and must follow all of the rules and regulations that are followed in any doctor’s office immunizing.”