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DOD expands pharmacy’s role in vaccinating TRICARE beneficiaries

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The U.S. Department of Defense has issued a final rule that, effective Aug. 12, expands the scope of retail pharmacy-provided vaccination services in the TRICARE military healthcare program for the nation’s military, retirees and their families.
 
Under the DOD’s interim final rule, released on Dec. 10, 2009, retail network pharmacies first were recognized as providers and were authorized to administer the H1N1, seasonal influenza and pneumococcal vaccines to TRICARE patients. For the first six months following publication of that interim final rule, more than 18,000 vaccines were administered in pharmacies. The DOD estimated that more than $1.5 million was saved by administering these vaccines through the pharmacy, rather than the medical, benefit.

The newly released final rule complements the interim final rule and further authorizes retail pharmacies to administer all vaccinations covered under the DOD’s preventive care program, as permitted by state law. And similar to the interim rule, the final rule also waives all co-pays for TRICARE beneficiaries who obtain vaccination services from network pharmacies.

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores on Thursday applauded the issuance of the final rule. “We applaud the Department of Defense for expanding retail pharmacy’s role in administering vaccinations for TRICARE beneficiaries,” stated NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson. “Pharmacy-provided vaccinations are important preventive healthcare services, which can help prevent the spread of disease, improve patient health and reduce healthcare costs over the long term.”

“As the face of neighborhood health care, pharmacy is committed to improving patient health and reducing costs one patient-pharmacist interaction at a time,” Anderson added. “TRICARE’s recognition of pharmacy’s value further illustrates the critical role of pharmacy in public health and the healthcare delivery system."

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