Following the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) August authorization allowing pharmacists to administer childhood vaccinations, some pediatricians have expressed concerns that this deprives children of medical care or could lead to missed vaccines; however, pharmacists say these concerns are unfounded.

According to a press release from Community Care Rx, the American Academy of Pediatrics and 44 of its chapters are asking federal officials to rescind the authorization, arguing that children should be vaccinated by a pediatrician who they know and trust.

In an interview with Pharmacy Times, Susan DiGregorio, BS Pharm, MS, RPh, director of clinical pharmacy development at Community Care Rx, said children should still see their pediatrician annually, so missing a vaccine should not be an issue. She added that pharmacists are some of the most trusted health care professionals and allowing them to administer childhood vaccines actually expands access to health care.
 
“We hope that [patients] know and trust their pediatricians, but pharmacists are one of the most trusted professions, so they can get to know and trust their pharmacist as well,” DiGregorio said.

Furthermore, DiGregorio said pharmacists are an additional resource for everything from medication questions to clinical guidance. Allowing pharmacists to play more of a role in pediatric care could reduce wait times in physician’s offices and even allow pediatricians to spend more time one-on-one caring for their patients, DiGregorio said.

Collaboration between health care providers has also become increasingly important during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, and pharmacists are well-positioned to deliver necessary care when many patients are avoiding unnecessary trips to physicians’ offices and other medical facilities. To improve this collaboration with hesitant pediatricians, DiGregorio said pharmacists can remind them of the data demonstrating improved outcomes and enhanced patient satisfaction when pharmacists are involved in care, as well as more efficient and cost-effective care.

DiGregorio also addressed the concerns of the anti-vaccine movement, which has said that giving children too many vaccines will weaken their immune systems. When speaking with a hesitant parent, DiGregorio said it is important to remind them of reliable research and its findings.

“Diseases have not disappeared and, sadly, children are more likely to die from an actual disease than from getting vaccinated,” DiGregorio said in a press release. “The more people get vaccinated, the less opportunity these diseases have to spread.”

REFERENCE
With Pharmacies Authorized to Provide Children’s Vaccines, Community Care Rx (CCRx) Addresses Concerns from Pediatricians and Anti-Vaccers [news release]. Email; November 6, 2020. Accessed November 19, 2020.