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Pharmacists Fight to Give Flu Shots

By Associated Press

Albany – Pharmacists tried to give a shot in the arm to a long-proposed law allowing them to give flu shots. Pharmacists held a news conference in Albany on the issue yesterday. But nurses continued to oppose the effort as a threat to public health.

Craig Burridge is executive director of The Pharmacists Society of The State of New York. He says five thousand to seven thousand people die each year due to what is a preventable disease.

People 65 years old and older are the key risk group for influenza. The Federal Centers for Disease Control's latest figures show 64 percent of New Yorkers in that age group received flu shots in 1999, mostly from nurses. Forty states did better.

Burridge argued that drug stores are often open 10 or more hours a day and customers might more readily agree to a shot by their local druggist.

Nancy Webber of The New York State Nurses Association said allowing pharmacists to give shots would be unsafe. Thirty-six states already allow pharmacists to give flu shots.