When South Carolinians go to the polls in November, they can also get flu and pneumonia shots through a "Vaccinate and Vote" campaign supported in part by the state pharmacy board.
Capitalizing on a red-hot Presidential race, a South Carolina campaign has enlisted the state pharmacy board and pharmacy association to help spread the word that voters can get flu and pneumonia shots when they go to the polls on Nov. 2.
The Vaccinate and Vote program is being coordinated by the South Carolina Coalition for Older Adult Immunizations in conjunction with the Carolina Medical Review and the state pharmacy association and pharmacy board, said Natalie Cobb, administrative assistant to the pharmacy board's compliance division. She is the board's liaison to the coalition. The project is relying on local groups and volunteers, including pharmacists, who will help with publicity, additional volunteer recruitment, Election Day staffing, vaccine availability and administration, as well as help with billing.
The details are still being hammered out, but anywhere from seven to 15 vaccination sites will be set up across the state on Election Day. Personnel with the state department of health and environmental control are handling the on-the-ground logistics. Public health nurses will do the actual immunizations.
"Doing well by doing good" is the philosophy behind the decision of the pharmacy board to promote the Vaccinate and Vote effort. Not only are citizens given an easy way to get their flu and pneumonia shots, but the campaign will also be used by the profession to give a boost to a drive to expand pharmacists' ability to administer drugs, said Cobb. Currently, pharmacists are permitted to administer drugs but only if they get a patient-specific order from a physician. Pending legislation would change that to permit R.Ph.s to administer at the very least influenza and pneumococcal vaccines.
"By endorsing this program, raising awareness, and providing information and volunteers, we're hoping to bring attention to the pharmacist's role in providing that service," said Cobb. "We're excited to be part of a program that helps our outreach, since pharmacists play a unique role in the community."
The South Carolina Pharmacy Association's role in the coalition is "supportive" said Jennifer Baker, Pharm.D., manager of professional affairs. Like the pharmacy board, the group is working to expand the practice act on immunizations. "Next year, we hope pharmacies will be vaccination sites," she said.
The South Carolina organizers borrowed a page from the strategy book of Project Immunize Virginia (PIV), which pioneered the idea of setting up shop at the polls to boost adult immunization rates. PIV plans to set up 10 sites in areas with high Medicare populations and high death rates, said coordinator Sarah Nasca. In past election years, clinics have administered anywhere from 149 to 900 vaccinations.
The Virginia Pharmacists Association has been on board with PIV from the get-go pilot phase in 2002, said CEO Rebecca Snead. This year, pharmacists will be administering shots at the clinics, and pharmacy students will assist in coordinating the campaign on Election Day.
"Our partnership with the pharmacy student groups is critical to the success of the program," said Snead. "My key message is to encourage pharmacists and pharmacy students in other states to partner with their immunization coalition. It's a wonderful, wonderful program."
Carol Ukens. More R.Ph.s get on board the Vaccinate and Vote campaign.
Sep. 13, 2004;148:28.