Embracing and Advocating Change in the Pharmacy Profession

Julie M. Gerhart, RPh, MS
Published Online: Wednesday, August 1, 2007

?I will embrace and advocate change in the profession of pharmacy that improves patient care.?? Oath of a Pharmacist

In 1994, the state of Washington offered the first formalized ongoing immunization training for pharmacists, advocating for and embracing change in the profession. In 1996, the American Pharmacists Association (then the American Pharmaceutical Association) developed a national certificate training program for pharmacists.1 Since then, an additional 45 states have allowed pharmacists to vaccinate,2,3 and more than 30,000 pharmacists and student pharmacists have completed the formalized immunization certificate training program.3 The end result is that, in states where pharmacists are permitted to vaccinate, vaccination rates have improved.1

Despite the availability of vaccines for adults and an increase in immunizers, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adult vaccination rates remain far short of the Healthy People 2010 objectives.4 Now, a new program can assist pharmacists in their role as immunizers. In 2006, Merck & Co Inc initiated the Merck Adult Vaccination Program to help improve access to vaccines for adults.

The Merck Adult Vaccination Program was designed to recognize pharmacists as an important part of the health care network in support of adult vaccination. More than 2000 pharmacy locations are already participating in this program.

The Merck Adult Vaccination Program offers the following to participating pharmacies:

  • Listing of pharmacy locations on a searchable list available to health care providers and patients at www.MerckAdultVaccinationLocator.com or by calling 800-261-5579
  • Promotion of the Merck Adult Vaccination Program through Merck sales representatives to interested physician offices
  • Information and reference materials for protocol development, patient education, and vaccine storage and handling

To qualify for participation in the Merck Adult Vaccination Program, the pharmacy must have appropriate storage, including a refrigerator and a frost-free, separate-door freezer that is able to maintain a temperature of -15?C or colder. The pharmacy also must employ or use licensed administrators and must provide claims adjudication and billing services in accordance with applicable law. Finally, participant pharmacies must agree to stock or make available all Merck adult vaccines.

By working with the Merck Adult Vaccination Program and your community's network of health care providers, you can increase vaccination rates in adults. This is one of the many ways Merck works with pharmacists in our shared desire to put patients first.

For more information regarding participation in the Merck Adult Vaccination Program, call 800-Merck-90 (800-637-2590).

References

1. Hogue MD, Grabenstein JD, Foster SL, Rothholz MC. Pharmacist involvement with immunizations: a decade of professional advancement. J Am Pharm Assoc. 2006:46(2):168-182.

2. Gatewood S, Goode J-V, Stanley D. Keeping up-to-date on immunizations: a framework and review for pharmacists. J Am Pharm Assoc. 2006:46(2):183-192.

3. American Pharmacists Association. Access to pharmacy in America: pharmacy-based immunizations. Merck Vaccine Division; January 8, 2007.

4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Improving influenza, pneumococcal polysaccharide, and hepatitis B vaccination coverage among adults aged <65 years at high risk: a report on recommendations of the Task Force on Community Preventive Services. Available at: www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5405a1.htm.



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