Save Flu Vaccine for At-Risk Patients, APhA tells Pharmacists

DECEMBER 01, 2004
Ken Rankin

The American Pharmacists Association (APhA) has called on its members to perform a triage role during this season's influenza vaccine shortage in order to preserve vaccine supplies for "patients at greatest risk of complications if they get the flu."

In urging health care practitioners to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for determining which individuals should be immunized, APhA Executive Vice President John Gans said that the nation's pharmacists "are in a prime position to identify patients and educate them on their need for a[n] influenza vaccination."

Many individuals who should receive flu shots are taking chronic medications, and, as a result, "pharmacists can utilize prescription records to identify and, in many cases, immunize those patients against influenza and pneumococcal disease," he said.

Healthy individuals under age 65 who do not meet the CDC criteria for the vaccine "should allow other patients in need the opportunity to be immunized," the APhA official added. "Avoid placing health care providers in an awkward position" by demanding the vaccine, he told consumers.