Wisconsin health professionals hope to expand vaccine access

MILWAUKEE (AP) — The Medical College of Wisconsin wants to expand access to vaccines by having drugstores offer immunizations.

The college is spending $489,000 on a vaccination project with the Pharmacy Society of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Public Radio reported . The statewide project is expected to last 2½ years.

"This investment aims to increase the number of vaccines administered to residents of all ages and therefore reducing the prevalence of vaccine-preventable diseases in Wisconsin," said Erica Martin, manager of Practice and Population Health Initiative at the Pharmacy Society of Wisconsin.

The project will work with community coalitions to determine who may benefit from pharmacies carrying vaccinations, said, George MacKinnon, the college's dean.

"In certain populations, there may be underimmunized people," he said. "Black and Hispanic seniors, for example, tend to be less up-to-date on their tetanus and their pneumococcal (vaccines), and adults in all groups (are less up-to-date on) shingles and influenza."

The project will initially focus on Milwaukee, Green Bay, and Wausau before looking at rural areas, MacKinnon said. The project also aims to educate physicians, insurers, and the public that pharmacists have the skill set needed to provide immunizations, he said.

The project will begin next month. It's funded through the Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin Endowment.

Wisconsin doesn't meet all federal vaccination goals in many age and race demographics, according to the Wisconsin Immunization Registry and America's Health Rankings. The state also has fallen short for measles, mumps and rubella vaccinations among young children.

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