Flu shots for pharmacists? Not always

November 15, 2010

Many community pharmacists do not want to get the influenza vaccination; they don't think they need it, and employer incentives aren't there, a new study reveals.

Many community pharmacists do not want to get the influenza vaccination because of the lack of employer incentives and because they don't think they need it, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of Texas – Austin College of Pharmacy surveyed 1,028 individuals, including 895 pharmacists in the community-pharmacy setting, in hospitals, in academia, and in clinics. The study, which was recently published in the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association, found that pharmacists reported a flu vaccine rate of 78%, while community pharmacists had the lowest rate of all respondents in pharmacy settings at 75%.

Even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all healthcare workers receive the influenza vaccine, the pharmacists' rate is lower than that of physicians (87%) because many pharmacy employers do not require the vaccine or provide incentives - such as reimbursement or time off - for pharmacy staff who obtain flu shots, according to the researchers.

Community pharmacists also resisted vaccination because of their "attitudes towards the vaccines," Frei said. Community pharmacists were significantly more likely to express at least 1 concern with the vaccine, at 30%, compared to pharmacists in other practice settings.

Still, 26% of all the pharmacists expressed at least 1 concern with the influenza vaccine, including fear of adverse effects (8%), the perception that risk of contracting influenza is low (6%) and, fear of contracting influenza from the vaccine (5%). Other concerns included the belief that the vaccine is "ineffective," opposition to the vaccine, and poor access to the vaccine.

Frei believes that the vaccination rate for pharmacists would improve if they were given incentives and received education about the vaccines from the professional pharmacy associations. "Some of the beliefs expressed by the pharmacists were inaccurate. A professional society might have the ability to reach those pharmacists," Frei said.