Bill 96 allows pharmacists to give more injections, but it stops teens from getting themselves vaccinated against COVID

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This story was originally posted by NC health news.

A bill that would make post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), birth control and testosterone more readily available is on Gov. Roy Cooper’s desk, but while some advocates celebrate passage of the bill, opponents oppose adding controversial vaccine language to the bill.

The bill became controversial after Senator Joyce Krawiec (R-Forsyth) added a provision requiring young people to obtain parental permission before receiving vaccines that have not yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. , such as the COVID-19 vaccine.

The House passed the bill 106-5 Thursday, with five Democrats voting “no” after the Senate unanimously approved it on Tuesday.

House Bill 96 would allow pharmacists to dispense, deliver and administer certain drugs, including PEP, nicotine replacement therapy, self-administered oral and transdermal contraceptives, prenatal vitamins, glucagon, testosterone and vitamin B12 as well as any vaccinations or immunizations “recommended or required by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” the bill says.

The bill also requires health care providers “to obtain written consent from a parent or legal guardian before administering any vaccine that has received emergency use authorization and is not. still fully approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration to a person under the age of 18. of age. “

This would include all current COVID-19 vaccinations, although the FDA has accelerated its timeline to approve Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccines by Labor Day or earlier.

Krawiec said the amendment responds to concerns of his constituents that their children will receive a vaccine approved for emergency use authorization.

“Parents know their children best,” Krawiec said in a press release Tuesday. “They, not the government, should have the final say in their child’s health. “

Representative Pricey Harrison (D-Guilford), who was an early sponsor of the bill, withdrew her name from the bill and voted against Thursday because of the amendment. She did not speak upstairs in the House on Thursday as she may have recently been exposed to the coronavirus.

“I don’t think this is a good idea,” she told WRAL. “There are a lot of vaccine skeptics. My opinion is that we need more people vaccinated, not less. “

Rep. Wayne Sasser (R-Albemarle), the bill’s main sponsor, said he had “no opposition” in the House on Thursday.

“We worked with some of the changes they made to the Senate,” Sasser said. “All the stakeholders are on board. “

Expanded access to key drugs

Lee Storrow, executive director of the North Carolina AIDS Action Network, said passing the bill is a step in the right direction to expand access to PEP, an oral medication that must be taken 72 hours after a possible exposure to an HIV-positive person to prevent HIV.

“People who need post-exposure prophylaxis are in an emergency situation and must have access to the drug within 72 hours,” Storrow said. “There is a strong agreement even among medical providers that pharmacists need to be able to dispense this drug to people. “

If the bill is enacted, North Carolina will join states like New York, California, Colorado, and Virginia in making this drug more available.

“There is a real desire in the public health space and for those of us working in the area of ​​HIV, hepatitis C and communicable diseases to ensure that we learn from these two. past years, ”Storrow said.

He said it is important to take the initiative, so “that we don’t end up in a worse situation with so many other public health issues after the past two years because we have diverted the attention of the public. important priorities around HIV. “

The bill would also allow pharmacists to administer injections of testosterone to people 18 years of age and older, and to deliver, dispense and administer birth control.

Susanna Birdsong, public affairs director for Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, said “it would be great” if the bill also contained provisions to help people afford better birth control.

“But it’s a good first step,” Birdsong said. “And it definitely increases availability and access, and it provides another way, another outlet for people to access birth control.”

Address the disparities

Despite being home to research giants Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina ranked 33rd in the United Health Foundation’s U.S. health rankings.

While every county in North Carolina has at least one pharmacy, Sen. Jim Burgin (R-Harnett) told the Senate on Tuesday, there are five counties without a family doctor, 20 without a pediatrician, 26 without an OB-GYN and 30. without a psychiatrist.

“House Bill 96 is a combination of several groups that have come together to help expand access to health care for the citizens of our state,” said Burgin, including the North Carolina Association of Pharmacists, the North Carolina Retail Merchants Association, the North Carolina Medical Society. , the North Carolina Medical Council, the North Carolina Academy of Family Physicians, the North Carolina Pediatric Society, the North Carolina Obstetrical and Gynecological Society, and the North Carolina Psychiatric Association.

The bill was presented to Cooper on Tuesday, after the INDYthe deadline. He did not say whether he would sign the bill during a coronavirus task force briefing on August 4.

During a visit to the Forsyth Department of Public Health vaccination site, Cooper said the wording of the amended bill “relates to me,” the Winston Salem’s Journal reported.

“We will be reviewing this legislation as we go through the process,” Cooper said at the task force briefing. “He’s doing important things that we know we need to do, so we’ll keep looking at him.”

North Carolina Health News is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit, state-wide news organization dedicated to covering all things health care in North Carolina.


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