NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — State lawmakers want pharmacies to play an even bigger role in vaccine distribution, long after the coronavirus pandemic is over.

They say it will help address the disparities COVID-19 highlighted, especially in hard-to-reach communities, CBS2’s Aundrea Cline-Thomas reported Thursday.

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Deshawn Connor said shots aren’t his thing. But on the spur of the moment, he decided to get a vaccine at the Rossi Pharmacy.

“I’ve been coming here for years. I get my medicine here. I came to pick up some medicine yesterday and I asked him can I come and take the shot?” Connor said.

Those relationships are vital for pharmacists like Ambar Keluskar.

He’s on the front line combatting vaccine hesitancy.

“It’s one of the only places where you can speak to a medical professional and get advice without, you know, worrying about getting a giant bill down the line,” Keluskar said.


Now, state lawmakers want to expand on pharmacies’ success well beyond the pandemic by allowing them to distribute even more vaccines.

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Pharmacies already administer other vaccines, including the flu shot.

“We’ve gotta reach folks who didn’t have health care for so many years, people in underserved areas, in poor communities, immigrant communities, rural communities,” state Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky said.

Stavisky is sponsoring a bill that would allow pharmacies to administer to adults all vaccines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control.


Keluskar said access to shots for diseases like hepatitis B would be crucial.

“When the process is that easy, that they can just walk right in, get their shot and be on with their day, it definitely increases the compliance,” Keluskar said.

The goal is to protect communities from so many deadly diseases that can easily be prevented.

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The bill is currently being reviewed by the Health Committee and has bipartisan support.

Aundrea Cline-Thomas