The number of pharmacists providing vaccinations – both in the U.S. and around the world – is growing significantly.
A new survey of 45 countries conducted by the International Pharmaceutical Federation Collaborating Centre at University College London found that 44% have community pharmacy locations offering vaccinations, demonstrating the expansion and growing acceptance of pharmacy immunization services around the world.
In addition, more countries are introducing immunization rights specifically for pharmacists. In 13 of the 45 countries, pharmacists have the authority to administer vaccines and, therefore, have the potential to reach 655 million people, according to the global report, “An overview of current pharmacy impact on immunization” released at the 76th annual World Congress of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
In the U.S., more than 280,000 pharmacists are now trained to administer vaccines, up from 40,000 in 2007, according to the report. The number of adults getting influenza vaccinations in community pharmacies increased from 6% in 2004 through 2005 to around 25% from 2015 through 2016. “The scope of authority for pharmacists has expanded, supported by a public health need and the actions of immunizing pharmacists,” the report said. Plus, patient’s positive perception and acceptance of pharmacists as immunizers has grown in the U.S.
The American Pharmacists Association’s Pharmacy -Based Immunization Delivery Certificate Training Program (CTP) has been critical to the growth of pharmacists administering vaccines, according to the report. All 52 states now allow pharmacists to administer influenza vaccines, and APhA estimates that more than 70% of pharmacies administer the flu vaccine.
“To begin with, pharmacist-provided immunizations focused firstly on influenza and pneumococcal vaccines. However, pharmacists are now increasingly directing their attention on improving access to vaccinations across the lifespan and thereby widening the types of vaccines delivered,” the report said.
Meanwhile, globally, 940 million people live in countries where over 193,000 community pharmacies can potentially offer access to vaccination services, according to the report. Based on a global population of 7.4 billion, this represents at least one in eight people.
“The World Health Organization estimates that vaccination saves between two and three million lives each year. It is one of the safest, more efficient and cost-effective measures for preventing, controlling and eradicating life-threatening infectious diseases,” said Dr. Helena Rosado, research scientist at University College London School of Pharmacy and co-author of the report. “The accessibility and distribution of community pharmacies make them a first point of contact for patients, providing an excellent opportunity to address low immunization coverage,” Dr. Rosado said.
After the role of pharmacists as immunizers were recognized in the latest FIP-WHO guidelines on good pharmacy practice in 2011, FIP “considered it a good time to see how far this has been implemented,” said FIP President Dr Carmen Peña. “We look forward to a day when pharmacists all over the world are recognized for their full potential and can add to the immunizations offered by other health care professionals, especially in to hard-to-reach and high-risk populations.”