Not too long ago, getting a flu shot meant a trip to see your doctor — but a growing number of pharmacies in New Jersey are now offering that service, and soon their role as a health care provider could be expanded even more.

State Sen. Pat Diegnan, D-Middlesex, is sponsoring a measure that would expand the authority of pharmacists to administer all common vaccines.

The bill stipulates pharmacists would be allowed to initiate and administer to patients 3 years of age and older any vaccine that is recommended by the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention for kids between the ages of 3 and 18, with the permission of a parent.

Diegnan said the legislation would also permit a pharmacist or a pharmacy intern to give a flu shot to a patient who is 10 years old or older, with the permission of a parent.

Adults could get vaccines as well.

“I was in a pharmacy where a mom was there with two kids, one of which was 13 and one of which was 11, and she could only get the flu shot for the one who was 13," Diegnan said.

He noted if a pharmacist intern administered a vaccine, he or she would need to be under the supervision of the pharmacist.

Diegnan said his legislation is really about common sense.

“As we all know, preventive care really basically in the long run saves everybody money, so insurance companies support it, pharmacies support it," Diegnan said.

He noted the measure requires all pharmacists and pharmacist interns to get specific education and training in administering any vaccine they would be giving to members of the public.

“The more accessible we have preventative medicine to everybody the better, obviously it leads to a healthier population, influenza specifically is a very dangerous condition," he said.

Diegnan said allowing pharmacists to expand their role in providing vaccinations will encourage people to get the vaccinations they need to stay healthy.

“You’re literally in and out of there in 15 minutes, as opposed to making an appointment with your doctor, waiting an hour, going through all the procedure, and ultimately it’s less expensive," Diegnan said. "In my mind it’s a win-win on all levels.”

The measure, which is being considered by Senate Health committee, could be voted on by the end of the year.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com