Pharmacists are quickly becoming immunization champions. Throughout Canada, pharmacists are not only educating and injecting patients with influenza vaccines but are delivering an increasing number of vaccines in practice. With vaccines playing such a significant role in public health, pharmacists should be prepared to provide education the different recommended vaccine options for their patients.
by Mike Boivin B.Sc. Pharm
# 1 Pharmacists can impact the far from optimal influenza immunization rates
Although the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) currently recommends the influenza vaccine for Canadians over 6 months of age, only one-third of eligible Canadians receive the annual influenza vaccine. Many times this is due to patients believing many of the myths associated with influenza and the vaccine. By efficiently providing evidence based influenza information in their practice, pharmacists can help to protect their patients and their entire community.
#2 Ensure all of your adult patients are up-to-date with their current immunizations
Adult immunization rates tend to be poor in Canada, with many patients not being protected with different recommended vaccines. Immunize Canada (immunize.ca) has developed an excellent tool that reviews the recommended vaccines for patients over the age of 50 years. Pharmacists should consider downloading this tool and having it readily available to start an immunization discussion with their patients.
#3 Customize your immunization based on the needs of your patients
Each patient case is unique and pharmacists are encouraged to customize their vaccine recommendations based on the needs of their patients. When conducting influenza immunizations, consider reviewing the patient’s current medications and medical history to determine if they are a candidate for any specific vaccines. Asking about future travel plans can determine if the patient should be immunized against different travel-related vaccines.