Making Recommendations for Immunizations at Work

APRIL 21, 2017
Jeannette Y. Wick, RPh, MBA, FASCP
One of the reasons why pediatric immunization campaigns have been so successful is that school systems have made immunizations a requirement before students can return to classes. Adults—who have graduated from school and moved into the workplace—have not adhered to immunization schedules as thoroughly as children have. Only 38% of adults received an influenza immunization in 2014, and rates of immunization with other essential vaccinations are discouragingly low.

Researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia have published a retrospective observational study that examines the impact of pharmacists who conduct immunization checkups for employees. The study, published in the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association, indicates that providing employee health check-ups can increase immunizations significantly.

This intervention was offered to 252 employees of the Kroger grocery store chain and their spouses, among whom the average age was 45 years. The health screening assessed blood pressure, blood glucose, cholesterol, and body mass. Concurrently, participating pharmacists assessed each employee's adherence to adult immunizations, such as the pneumococcal, herpes zoster, tetanus diphtheria and pertussis, and hepatitis B vaccines.

The most common recommendation was to receive an annual influenza vaccination. The pharmacists also made 42 recommendations for PPSV23, reflecting that the population included a number of individuals who were older than 65 years, had diabetes or chronic lung disease, or used tobacco.

The pharmacists made only 12 recommendations for herpes zoster and 4 recommendations for PCV13, reflecting the study population's younger age.
Half of patients acted on recommendations for influenza or PCV 13. Acceptance rates for other recommendations were significantly lower and ranged from 24% to 42%. The overall acceptance rate was 45%.

The researchers concluded that employees were more likely to act on recommendations later in the year than earlier in the year. They attribute this to limited availability of vaccines earlier in the year. Once the influenza vaccine was available, uptake was more likely.

Sparkman A, Brookhart AL, Goode JK. The impact of an immunization check-up at a pharmacist-provided employee health screening. J Am Pharm Assoc (2003). 2017 Mar 31; pii: S1544-3191(17)30038-9.

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