Consumers no longer need a prescription to get most major vaccinations at South Carolina pharmacies under new protocols recently approved by the state Board of Medical Examiners.
The protocol was adopted earlier this month, but did not receive much public attention until the University of South Carolina (USC) notified news outlets of the change this week. The new protocol covers vaccines for flu, pneumonia, shingles, human papillomavirus and a half dozen more diseases. Children under 18 will still need a prescription for the vaccines, though children 12 or older can get the flu vaccine without a prescription.
Previously, only flu vaccines did not require a prescription.
“It means adults will be able to get almost any vaccine without a prescription, which is a huge win for South Carolina patients,” USC clinical pharmacy professor Brandon Bookstaver said. “We’ve seen how increased access for the flu vaccine was a boost for people’s health. This expansion will dramatically increase our ability to prevent the cost and suffering of disease.”
Brookstaver served on an inter-professional committee of pharmacists, physicians, nurses, and a state regulator who recommended the change. Earlier this year, state legislators voted to expand vaccine availability pending the recommendations of the interprofessional committee.
South Carolina had been one of 17 states that required prescriptions for non-influenza vaccines.
The cost of immunization to the consumer depends on their health insurance and the type of vaccine. The pharmacies themselves will decide which vaccines they will carry, although broad availability is expected.