In the US where our pharmacist colleagues are credentialed to give immunisations new reports illustrate how the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic proved to be an excellent example of pharmacists being a valuable health solutions provider.
Community pharmacists throughout the US stepped up to administer hundreds of thousands of doses of H1N1 influenza vaccine and demonstrated the critical role pharmacists play in public health and the value they deliver to their patients. Pharmacy’s contributions have not gone unnoticed.
Recently, reports from Biosecurity and Bioterrorism, and the Institute of Medicine (IOM) have come out examining the H1N1 influenza vaccination campaign to identify lessons learned, and to provide recommendations to improve future emergency vaccination campaigns. In both reports, the contributions of pharmacists to the success of campaign are specifically cited.
· From Biosecurity and Bioterrorism: “Several study participants emphasized that the use of pharmacists, given their expertise in vaccinating and their ability to adhere to public health guidance, was important to implementing mass vaccination campaigns.“
· For the future, the IOM suggests to public health authorities to “continue to engage with pharmacies and integrate them into vaccine and other countermeasure distribution and administration systems.”
What great compliments and recognition of pharmacist-provided patient care. According to the most recent NCPA Digest (Equivalent of Guild Digest), the number jumped from 43per cent to 76per cent, with the added bonus of an average of about $10,000 in additional revenue. For the remaining pharmacies that haven’t been involved in the immunization arena a major campaign by the National Community Pharmacy Association, our sister organisation is now being undertaken to get them involved. Pharmacists in every state in the US now have the authorisation to administer vaccines, and their accessibility in the community is a compelling factor why immunisations can grow to be a niche. Not only do you know their existing patients and can screen for high-risk individuals, but by being open for more accessible hours can take walk-in patients when health clinics and doctors’ offices are most likely closed. Access is the biggest problem facing the US health system.
Many US pharmacists have already been vaccinating for years but it was over the last 12 months that all US States legislated to allow pharmacists to vaccinate. This has allowed our sister organisation to implement a national systemised program. In Australia you will see in 2011 at least three pharmacy schools offer an immunisation credentialing program for pharmacists. I hope more schools follow and the Guild will facilitate programs for existing pharmacists. The higher the number in terms of credentialed pharmacists the more likely the ability to get legislative change. The simple fact is that there is strong evidence from the US for pharmacists to be involved to give vaccinations. Hopefully this is one of the big changes you will see in 2011.