Friday, May 1, 2009

Ga. gov signs flu bill with 'state or emergency' for pandemic

Perdue signs flu bill

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Georgia nurses and pharmacists have more authority to respond to the spreading swine flu outbreak and the governor has more power as the result of legislation Gov. Sonny Perdue signed this morning.

The Access to Flu Vaccines Act cosponsored by the druggists in the House, including Reps. Ron Stephens and Buddy Carter of Savannah and health-policy expert Mickey Channell of Greensboro, is designed to make it easier for Georgians to receive shots and for the state to respond quicker.

Pharmacists and nurses will now be able to dispense flue shots without individual prescriptions. It was needed after the Composite Board of Medical Examiners accepted advice from the Attorney General’s Office last fall in concluding that prescriptions were needed under the law.

The new legislation legitimizes the state’s practice for the last decade in permitting doctors to issue standing orders. It also specifically permits hospitals authority to offer vaccinations or tests when recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

At the same time, it lets the governor declare a state or emergency for a pandemic influenza if the CDC or World Health Organization declares a phase 5 alert.

Mr. Perdue plucked House Bill 217 for signing ahead of the hundreds of others awaiting his signature from the 2009 session that ended earlier this month. He has until May 13 to sign or veto bills and normally announces his decisions closer to the deadline.

“The flu affects thousands of people each year and our citizens should be able to access flu vaccines to protect themselves and their families,” said Mr. Perdue.

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