A global pharmacy organization is aiming to help pharmacists expand their role in immunization via a new resource.
The International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) document, “Give it a shot: Expanding immunisation coverage through pharmacists”, offers practical guidance on implementing a vaccination service and sets out the roles and technical requirements for pharmacy-based vaccines-related services.1
The document, provided free to pharmacists and their teams around the world, “makes the case for pharmacy-based vaccinations and presents a compilation of evidence and best practice,” FIP said in a press release.2
“FIP strongly believes that pharmacists should be involved in vaccination strategies in a multitude of roles everywhere around the world and has given high priority to this area for a decade,” said FIP President Dominique Jordan.
In recent years, the number of countries that have introduced vaccination by pharmacists or at community pharmacies has increased, Jordan noted. “However, barriers and opposition to this expansion of pharmacists’ scope of practice remain in many countries and with this resource, we want to inspire these countries to move forward and individuals to act.”
Vaccination is “one of the most successful, safe and cost-effective health interventions of all time,” Jordan added. “Improving vaccination coverage is a global imperative and pharmacists must join these efforts.”
Vaccination services are particularly needed now, since global immunization rates have dropped due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. The World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF warned about an “alarming decline” in the number of children receiving life-saving vaccines around the world, the organizations said in a press release.3
“COVID-19 has made previously routine vaccination a daunting challenge,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “We must prevent a further deterioration in vaccine coverage and urgently resume vaccination programs before children’s lives are threatened by other diseases. We cannot trade one health crisis for another.”
For example, at least 30 measles vaccination campaigns were or are at risk of being cancelled, which could result in further outbreaks in 2020 and beyond, WHO and UNICEF said.
Pharmacists can help increase vaccination rates in all populations, but, in particular, pregnant women and health care workers, FIP said.
“Pharmacists are in a unique position to reach out to these groups, inform them, and advocate the benefits of vaccination and thus reduce the prevalence of vaccine-preventable diseases,” FIP said.
1. Give it a Shot: Expanding Immunization Coverage Through Pharmacists. International Pharmaceutical Federation; June 25, 2020. Accessed July 22, 2020. https://www.fip.org/file/4699.
2. New resource for pharmacists to expand their roles in vaccination available. News release. International Pharmaceutical Federation; June 25, 2020. Accessed July 22, 2020. https://www.fip.org/press-releases?press=item&press-item=69
3. WHO and UNICEF warn of a decline in vaccinations during COVID-19. News release. WHO and UNICEF; July 15, 2020. Accessed July 22, 2020. https://www.who.int/news-room/detail/15-07-2020-who-and-unicef-warn-of-a-decline-in-vaccinations-during-covid-19