Vaccines are considered a safe, efficient, and cost-effective means to prevent disability, illness, and death from a variety of infectious diseases. Since 2010, it’s been the goal of the Department of Health and Human Services Healthy People program to improve immunization rates among those in the United States. This is especially crucial with the rise of immunization resistance by a growing number of people. The strategies include:
- Improving the quality and quantity of delivery of vaccination services
- Developing new and improved vaccines and improving the use of vaccines
- Minimizing the financial burden of vaccinations for those in need
- Improving vaccination coverage and disease monitoring
- Increase community awareness, education, partnership, and participation
What does this mean for the pharmacist? It means that you are in the unique position to assist in the education and support of vaccinations to those that you interact with on a routine basis. Pharmacists know their patients well and know who has a need for a specific type of vaccination. Since 2009, pharmacists have been permitted to administer those vaccinations in all 50 states. You are held by your states’ laws regarding the administration, but the fact that all 50 states permit pharmacists to administer is still a very important help to the goals of improving immunization rates.
Immunization administration by pharmacists can increase revenue for the pharmacy. Prescription drug reimbursements have been cut often by pharmacy benefit management, so adding a new service can help recoup any losses your pharmacy may be experiencing. Implementation of vaccination administration may seem difficult, but it is not if you plan for it appropriately. Many pharmacies implement a program that encourages appointments ahead of time so that they can gauge the supply that will be needed. This is especially helpful prior to flu season. Your pharmacy can still take walk-ins; you are simply anticipating the need and can order more to accommodate for those walk-ins you may receive. Another way to make it easier is to work with a physicians group. This allows you to sell them the vaccine or help them administer it for a fee and establish your pharmacy and pharmacists as vaccination providers in the community.
Not all pharmacists will want licensure and education to administer vaccinations, and that is okay. They can still support the efforts by:
- Screening the patient
- Counseling the patient
- Formulation management
- Public education
- Administrative measurements
Overall, pharmacists can have a significant impact on their community by joining the fight against infectious disease. Regardless of whether you need to increase revenue, it’s a major step in the right direction for everyone.