Pharmacist’s Contribution to Vaccination

 Pharmacist’s Contribution to Vaccination
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 Pharmacists’ contribution to vaccination

Pharmacists play a role in overcoming these barriers through education, providing evidence-based information and advice to overcome misbeliefs and misconceptions regarding vaccinations. Pharmacists have an essential public health role by acting as educators and advisers, facilitating and participating in national and global routine immunisation strategies and practices and/or delivering pharmacy-based vaccinations. All these roles have already been successfully implemented in various countries around the world and there is a wealth of evidence of the impact of pharmacists’ vaccination-related roles, as included in this publication.

The accessibility and distribution of community pharmacies usually makes them a first point of contact for patients and the public in general, providing the opportunity to promote and increase vaccination services. Due to their easy accessibility, pharmacists can more easily identify and target patients who are at higher risk of vaccine-preventable diseases and their complications. As advocates for vaccination, they build trust with the community to establish the crucial nature of vaccines and their benefits. With their knowledge of the vaccine supply chain and storage of cold products, pharmacists ensure safety and quality of vaccines. They are essential contributors for expanding vaccination coverage and overcoming the challenges necessary to improving vaccination compliance.

Pharmaceutical services play an important role in public health, contributing to the improvement of the quality of life of patients and communities. Community pharmacies stand as a reference point for patients and represent, in many cases, the first point of contact with the health system.

Pharmacists’ functions and responsibilities have evolved in recent years, with pharmacists nowadays playing the role of health promoters, advocates of responsible use of medicines, and pharmaceutical care providers among other important roles. Vaccination services are a part of this dynamic shift of the role of the pharmacist beyond dispensing, with pharmacists having the potential to be involved in all stages of the development, promotion, supply, administration and monitoring of vaccines. However, their participation in such a process is quite heterogeneous, mainly depending on the country of practice.

Vaccine-related roles of community pharmacists

Vaccination services in community pharmacies, whether intra- or extramural, are made up of a set of activities that
pharmacists deliver to meet the health needs related to immunisation and the vaccination status of individuals. The
purpose of these services is to improve public health by optimising access and vaccination coverage. In this regard, six working areas were identified in which the pharmacist should participate to ensure timely, safe, accessible and efficient services for the patient

1. Advocacy for vaccination

Advocacy for health is a combination of individual and social actions aimed at achieving political commitments, social acceptance, and support for health policies and systems for a specific health objective or programme. In this case, advocacy is focused on vaccination services by community pharmacy and it can be achieved through the following actions:

  • Participating in and/or advising national or local immunisation committees and groups
  • Actively participating in educational processes and providing updated and timely information to patients and the population regarding vaccination
  • Distributing printed or electronic information addressed to patients and the community
  • Conducting and/or participating in national vaccination campaigns

2. Management of the vaccine supply chain

Management of the vaccine supply chain includes information, acquisition, programming, storage, distribution, control, and evaluation stages. In each of these phases, pharmacists must be involved as medicines experts, both nationally and locally. Actions include the following:

  • Participating in the definition of the vaccines that will be supplied
  • Participating in the needs analysis about provision and assignment of financial resources, according to
    vaccination objectives and priorities
  • Participating in the acquisition processes of vaccines, ensuring that they come from reliable and recognised
    quality sources
  • Establishing and complying with the technical conditions related to conservation and safekeeping of vaccines
  • Ensuring the compliance with technical requirements related to vaccines conservation at all stages of their  distribution and transfer, all the way from manufacturers to the administration to an individual
  • Ensuring compliance with the quality, safety and efficacy of vaccines
  • Participating in the administrative control of the supply process
  • Performing studies to determine the consumption, costs and impact of vaccines (for example, increased
    coverage)
  • Obtaining, analysing and interpreting data corresponding to the vaccines supply process

3. Counselling on vaccination status

Pharmacists are experts in medicines and thus possess the knowledge and skills to offer information, advice and
assistance in immunisation and vaccination. Their role as a counsellor with regard to medicines and vaccines includes the following actions:

  • Reviewing patients’ vaccination status according to vaccination schemes established in the country
  • Developing vaccination reminder systems for the patient to keep their vaccination schedule up to date
  • Evaluating special health situations and contraindications related to vaccination and, if appropriate, refer the
    patient to a physician for evaluation
  • Identifying and providing guidance to risk groups, especially those that are not covered by national and/or
    mandatory vaccination schemes
  • Detecting, reporting and following up on events that have been reported to be attributable to vaccinations
    (in other words, suspected adverse reactions to vaccines) to the national and/or regional pharmacovigilance
    unit
  • Detecting, reporting and monitoring medication errors (prescription, indication, dispensing, administration)
    related to vaccines

4. Dispensing vaccines

It is important to note that dispensing vaccines is subject to regulation in each country, depending on whether there is a need for a medical prescription or not. In any case, dispensing involves the delivery of information to the patient, including the essential conditions for the adequate conservation of the vaccine until its administration. It is necessary to keep a record of all vaccines dispensed at the pharmacy, either with or without a prescription.

5. Pharmaceutical recommendation (indication) of vaccines

Pharmaceutical recommendation/indication of vaccines is carried out according to national vaccination programmes
and/or guidelines about the prevention of infectious diseases. It is important to highlight the importance of registering the vaccines recommended by the pharmacists.

6. Administration of vaccines to patients

The administration of a vaccine in a community pharmacy corresponds to the procedure by which patients receive a
vaccine administered by the pharmacist or another authorised member of the pharmacy team, either orally or parenterally (intramuscular, intradermal or subcutaneous), to produce the specific immunity induced by the product. Actions related to the administration of vaccines include:

  • Registering and documenting all administered vaccines: registration in the patient’s vaccination record
    (electronic record or vaccination card) and in the pharmacy records
  • Reporting the vaccines administered to the official national immunisation record
  • Managing waste products related to the administration of the vaccine
  • Following up on patients to promote compliance with vaccination schemes
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