Chicago: Inching Towards Universal Healthcare

On Aug. 21, 2012, Governor Quinn of Illinois signed a law into place that would allow children as young as 10 to get shots from immunization-licensed retail pharmacists. The children must be accompanied by their parents and show proof of an up to date immunization history.  Previous Illinois laws allowed only children 14 years or older to receive the shots from pharmacists. Government officials state that this new law expands access to nearly 630,000 children. This law comes on the heels of a pertussis (Tdap) outbreak in the state with over 2800 reported cases (2011-August 2012).

It is a great step forward towards providing accessible healthcare for everyone in this state. It mirrors the UK's National Healthcare System (NHS) where pharmacists (a.k.a. chemists) are trained to treat basic illnesses that allow for all of its citizens to obtain medical assistance at their convenience. Physician offices do not have flexible hours and many are open during school and work hours. Pharmacies on the other hand are open earlier and later than the normal school/work day, and provide a variety of shots at cheaper rates. Target provides flu shots for as little as $28 and Tdap shots for $60.

Some will claim that this law is an example of the privatization of health care, but physicians are still allowed to administer shots. Target, CVS, and Walgreens did not buy the rights to give inoculations. Yet, that will still leave the uninsured without easy access either from a medical professional or a licensed pharmacist. Would there be the possibility for the law to be amended so that waivers could be provided for the uninsured so that they too could obtain basic immunizations at free or fairer prices?

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Filed under: Healthcare

Tags: Governor Quinn, Health Law

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