National Vaccine Plan credits pharmacists for better immunization access

February 10, 2014

Pharmacists and other immunization providers worked with the federal government to increase access to vaccines in nontraditional settings.

The first annual report, “The State of the National Vaccine Plan,” published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, stresses that federal entities have worked with pharmacists and other immunization providers to increase access to vaccines through nontraditional settings. But that push underscores the need for immunization information systems to help all healthcare providers track patients’ current immunization status.

The Maryland example

The 2013 annual report by the National Vaccine Program Office is a progress report on goals in the 2010 National Vaccine Plan.

A section highlights Maryland’s progress in the reduction of barriers and the increasing access to vaccines with passage of legislation last year. Maryland pharmacists, who are certified, can “administer all CDC recommended vaccinations to adolescents with a prescription and to adults without a prescription, but in accordance with a protocol.” The law also requires pharmacists to notify a person’s primary care provider.

The number of pharmacists in the state certified to provide vaccinations has increased from about 500 to more than 3,000 since 2009, the report said, and it’s expected to expand further with the new law.

 

 

Vaccine Finder

The report also noted that as of last September almost 600,000 consumers nationally have used the free service HealthMap Vaccine Finder, which lists more than 47,000 locations for 11 routine adult vaccines.

The Affordable Care Act will help to eliminate financial barriers for immunizations, but continuing confusion about coverage of immunizations is one of the challenges, according to one chapter in the annual report.

“Additionally, the need to improve access points to vaccines for a large number of newly eligible persons will stress the infrastructure,” asserted L. J. Tan, MS, PhD, Chief Strategy Officer, Immunization Action Coalition.

Among numerous developments in research, the report noted that researchers at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases are pursuing the development of a universal influenza vaccine that might eliminate the need for an annual vaccination and, “could remove the threat of an influenza pandemic.”

The FDA’s PRISM (Post-Licensure Rapid Immunization Safety Monitoring) program created in recent years is now the largest vaccine safety surveillance system in the United States and can access data on more than 100 million patients, “with active observations of a representative subset of the general population.”

Internationally, immunization has never been higher, according to the report, “Yet every 20 seconds a child still dies from a disease that could be prevented by a vaccine.”