Pharmacists’ role in immunization and prevention of infectious disease
By Joey MattinglySitting calmly with her shirt sleeve pushed up, a 65-year-old woman waits with her eyes closed.She feels a coolness as her arm is cleaned with an alcohol swab. Within seconds, she feels a littlesting and then the pressure of cotton over the microscopic prick. Her eyes open and she smiles atthe health care professional seated next to her, happy that it is over. In an instant, the womanreceived a flu vaccination that could save her life. As she rolls down her sleeve she asks the person in the white coat, “So when will you finish pharmacy school?”Pharmacists and student pharmacists have more opportunities than ever to have a positive effecton patient health. Through advocacy, the profession has expanded its scope of practice to includeimmunizations and more preventive care. As arguably the most accessible health care professionals, pharmacists are in a position to greatly increase the number of patients vaccinatedin the United States. This could save millions of dollars in health care cost for the treatment of diseases like influenza, pneumonia, shingles, and even cervical cancer. With the role of the pharmacist expanding to include immunization administration, situations like the one with thestudent pharmacist described above are possible all across the United States.
According to CDC, nearly 200,000 Americans are hospitalized each year from complications of influenza alone. With an expanded role, pharmacists can be more involved in patient care anddisease prevention. In order to have a real influence on society, pharmacists and student pharmacists need to be proactive in this area. Promotion of immunization services should be a priority for all pharmacists. Student pharmacists can contribute to awareness through patient care projects and working as a part of
. If patients do not know that pharmacists can administer vaccinations, the opportunity to make a difference will be lost.In 2005, the World Health Organization (WHO), along with UNICEF, developed a GlobalImmunization Vision and Strategy for 2006–2015, seeking to provide vaccinations to everyeligible person. By 2010, the goal is to have at least 90% national vaccination coverage. In order