New York State Department of Health Celebrates Pharmacists' Contributions to Protecting and Promoting Public Health On National Pharmacist Day

Pharmacists are Vital Part of the State's Health Care Provider Network by Ensuring Access to Vaccinations, Tests and Treatments in all New York Communities

ALBANY, N.Y. (January 12, 2023) – The New York State Department of Health joins the nation today in recognizing National Pharmacist Day and celebrating the important contributions pharmacists make in ensuring all New Yorkers have access to critical health resources.

"As someone who grew up working in our family small town pharmacy in Cohoes, I know firsthand how important pharmacists are to achieving and maintaining our overall health. Pharmacists have been essential in ensuring that all New Yorkers, regardless of income or location, have access to vaccination against a variety of infectious diseases, including COVID-19, the flu and pneumonia," Acting State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said. "We applaud pharmacists for their dedication to ensuring patients receive therapies safely and effectively while also ensuring they understand their treatment plans. Pharmacists are among the hardest working and most valuable health care professionals."

Pharmacists play an important role in enabling widespread access to health care services, as 90 percent of Americans live within five miles of a pharmacy, including traditionally underserved urban and rural communities where there is often limited access to primary care providers.

Since the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, pharmacies have served as community-based locations where individuals could find testing for the virus. As vaccines and then boosters became more widely available, and as more populations became eligible, pharmacies and pharmacists increasingly took on the responsibility of protecting the public from various strains and waves, quickly becoming one of the primary places people turned to for their COVID-19 vaccines, boosters, and now treatment for people who are infected with the disease.

Governor Hochul signed a law in the fall of 2021 expanding the immunizations that licensed pharmacists can administer to patients who are 18 years of age or older. Under that law, pharmacists are able to administer vaccines recommended by the CDC for hepatitis A and B, human papillomavirus, measles, mumps, rubella, pneumococcal, meningococcal, herpes zoster (shingles), varicella, tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Td or Tdap) vaccines. The law also makes permanent the ability of licensed pharmacists to administer the COVID-19 vaccine.

This week, Governor Hochul proposed steps to further solidify New York as a safe haven for abortion care, including allowing pharmacists to directly prescribe hormonal contraception medication, joining 20 other states that already allow for this practice. This action—which further underscores the important role pharmacists play in making critical health care available to all—will expand access to hormonal contraception which is especially vital for marginalized populations who may not have a primary care provider but do have a local pharmacy nearby.

The State's 22,351 licensed pharmacists also play a key role in harm reduction services for people who use drugs such as opioids. In August 2022, the State Health Commissioner announced a statewide pharmacy standing order for naloxone, a medication that can be easily administered to reverse an overdose and save a person's life. The new standing order applies to all pharmacies in New York State. Through the Department's Naloxone Co-Payment Assistance Program (N-CAP), insured individuals have co-payments of up to $40.00 covered by the State resulting in no cost or lower out-of-pocket expenses. New Yorkers struggling with drug use, or whose loved ones are struggling, can find help and hope by calling the State's toll-free, 24-hour, 7-day-a-week HOPEline at 1-877-8-HOPENY (1-877-846-7369) or by texting HOPENY (Short Code 467369). For more information about the new standing order, please visit the website here or email questions to the Department at:

For more information about pharmacists and immunizations, please visit the Department of Health's website here.