The American Pharmacists Association (APhA) is encouraging consumers to get immunized against influenza and to speak with their pharmacist about the options available at their local pharmacy. Pharmacists are authorized to give flu vaccinations in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, and more than 150,000 U.S. pharmacists have been trained in the practice of immunization administration. The CDC estimates that approximately 20 percent of the seasonal flu vaccinations given to adults during the 2010-2011 season were administered by pharmacists.
"APhA encourages consumers to be proactive and talk to their pharmacist about their vaccination needs and the immunization process at the pharmacy," says APhA CEO and executive vice president Thomas Menighan. "A pharmacist goes through six years or more of school, depending on his/her area of specialization. In addition to their specialized training as medication experts, pharmacists can go through a formal training program to gain the skill set and knowledge to administer immunizations. This formal training helps ensure reliable and consistent immunization care for patients. "
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 5 percent to 20 percent of the U.S. population is infected with influenza every year, and over the past 31 years, annual influenza related deaths have ranged from 3,000 to 49,000. Consistent with the recommendations by the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), APhA recommends that all persons six months of age and older be vaccinated each year.
The flu vaccine administered in the local pharmacy is supplied by the same major manufacturers who supply the vaccines to doctors and other healthcare providers. The 2011-2012 vaccine is now available and health care providers should begin vaccinating patients as soon as they receive their supply. Consumers are strongly encouraged to be vaccinated early in the season, but immunizations can be received as long as vaccine supply is available. There are several methods of flu vaccination available, depending upon the patient's age and health conditions. Make sure to ask your pharmacist or other healthcare provider about which is right for you.
In many states, pharmacists are able to administer other important immunizations. Check with your local pharmacist to determine which vaccines they administer. Immunizations may include:
- Pneumococcal (Pneumonia)
- Meningococcal (Meningitis)
- Hepatitis B
- Human papillomavirus (HPV)
- Tdap (Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis)
- Zoster (Shingles)
Consumers should hold a conversation with their pharmacist and their other healthcare providers about their vaccination needs. Pharmacists work in conjunction with doctors and other healthcare providers to optimize care, improve medication use and to prevent disease. APhA encourages consumers to fill all their prescriptions with one pharmacy to get to know their pharmacist on a first name basis, to carry an up-date medication and vaccination list and to share all medical information with each of their healthcare providers.