Bentley measure aimed at increasing access to voluntary childhood vaccines becomes law


FRANKFORT, Ky. — A measure aimed at increasing access to critical childhood immunization was delivered to the Secretary of State’s Office today, after being signed into law by the Governor. Sponsored by Rep. Danny Bentley, HB 274 expands access to common childhood vaccinations through local pharmacies by authorizing pharmacists to vaccinate children five and older.

“This is about access to care and keeping Kentuckians healthy with the voluntary use of tested and proven vaccines. We’ve got counties without a pediatrician, while pharmacists are more readily available.” Bentley said. “HB 274 does not mandate vaccination, but it does make these common immunizations more accessible to parents who make that decision by lowering the minimum age under state law to five years of age. We know it is safe, we know it is effective.”

Kentucky still lags behind other states in voluntary vaccinations, a situation widely attributed to access to medical care. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the state ranks behind five of seven neighboring states. Information from the American Board of Pediatrics shows that 51 of the state’s 120 counties do not have a general practice pediatrician. In counties without pediatricians, access to common vaccines such as DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis), meningitis, and the flu is often limited to local pharmacies.

“The passage of HB 274 marks a meaningful victory in healthcare accessibility for Kentuckians and offers a significant step forward in providing equitable and quality healthcare to patients across the Commonwealth. By empowering pharmacists to immunize individuals aged five and above, this legislation not only expands access to crucial healthcare services but also underscores the critical role pharmacists play in preventive care. We applaud Representative Bentley for strengthening our state’s public health infrastructure and for his commitment to fostering healthier communities.”

Bentley’s measure will become effective 90 days after the conclusion of the 2024 Regular Session on April 15.

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