When All is Said and Done, Do Pharmacists Like Immunizing?

DECEMBER 04, 2017
Jeannette Y. Wick, RPh, MBA, FASCP
As professions expand their scopes of practice, it is critical to step back periodically and examine how the change has affected the profession and the individuals within the profession. It is an element of performance improvement, and every profession should do this. One of the pharmacy profession’s most recent and significant changes has been expansion into immunization.

In 2012, Canadian pharmacists earned the state-sanctioned right to immunize. Now, a team of pharmacists has conducted a study to examine how this expanded scope of practice enhanced or challenged relationships. They concurrently looked for information about professional satisfaction and workload demands, while also examining pharmacists’ knowledge and attitudes regarding pain and fear and how they handle patients experiencing trepidation. 

Pharmacists who participated in this study, all of whom were certified immunizers, indicated that immunization services increase their interaction with patients—something they like—and that more than makes up for the increased workload. They perceived that patients like the convenience of pharmacy immunization, which increases patient satisfaction.

A key concern was that often, employers did not accommodate the increased workload with more resources or better staffing. In particular, the pharmacists had concerns about employer-designated quotas, with 1 participant indicating that employers do not ask dentists to perform a specific number of root canals a week. The issue here was professional autonomy.

Another challenge was the feeling that they may be breaching physician territory. Regardless, none of the participants had a negative interaction with a physician on this issue.

Participants had few concerns about pain management, reporting that pain is so minor, it usually dissipates immediately. Instead, pharmacists in areas that allowed them to immunize children indicated that immunizing children is a greater and more time-consuming challenge. Needle phobia was the cause, and pharmacists indicated that they need more training to increase patients’ comfort.

This study appears in the journal Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics.

Gerges S, Peter E, Bowles SK, et al. Pharmacists as vaccinators: an analysis of their experiences and perceptions of their new role. Hum Vaccin Immunother. 2017;15:0. doi: 10.1080/21645515.2017.1403695.