The recent measles outbreak has increased public discussion and debate around the importance of immunizations and community responsibility. It is also providing an opportunity for the profession of pharmacy to educate the public, decision makers, and other health care providers regarding the importance of vaccinations and pharmacists’ role within the immunization neighborhood.
Yesterday, APhA issued a statement about the important role vaccinations play in protecting public health.
In the statement, I highlight the facts that vaccines work and America’s pharmacists support vaccination as an important public health measure. Pharmacists are an important community source of information on vaccinations, and where authorized, vaccine administrators.
Yesterday, CDC released adult vaccination rates (excluding influenza). Compared with 2012, some vaccines showed modest increases, but coverage for other vaccines did not improve. CDC noted that awareness of the need for vaccines for adults is low among the general population. Results included the following:
- Pneumococcal—21.2% overall and 54.6% of adults aged 65 years and older
- Tetanus with pertussis—17.2%
- Hepatitis A—9%
- Hepatitis B—25%
- Shingles—24.4% of adults aged 60 years and older
- HPV (1 dose)—36.9% of women and 5.9% of men
Based on this vaccination information, it looks like we have some work to do! As the most accessible health care provider, we engage with patients on a daily basis to provide immunization education and access to vaccines.
This is the perfect opportunity for us to roll up our sleeves and dive in to help protect our communities from vaccine preventable diseases by assessing patient immunization status, educating patients and caregivers about the importance of immunizations and immunization schedules, administering immunizations, and documenting those immunizations in immunization registries and electronic health records. Pharmacists can once again demonstrate their value to the immunization neighborhood and public health.