Travel medicine service is an opportunity community pharmacies should consider integrating into the patient-care model.
International travel is common today,but many travelers are often ill-preparedin terms of travel vaccinesand travel-related health information.This provides a golden opportunity forpharmacists to provide travel medicineservices.
The growing trend in walk-in clinicsis exposing the public to moreinteractionwith their pharmacist. Instates where permitted, pharmacistscan administer immunizations thatmay include some travel vaccines.Furthermore, pharmacists can offerother guidance to travelers.
Data from the US Department ofCommerce, International Trade Administration,Manufacturing Services,Office of Travel and Tourism Industries,indicated that 64.1 million US residentstraveled abroad in 2007. The most traveledto destinations include:
Tourism is only one of the reasonsfor international travel. More peopleare traveling to foreign destinations forwork-related business, study abroadprograms for college students, adoptions,and religious groups sponsoringmission trips.
Pharmacists need to make sure they arefamiliar with the Centers for DiseaseControl and Prevention's (CDC) recommendationsfor immunizations to counselpatients properly regarding necessaryvaccines. Pharmacists also shouldmake sure those traveling are up-to-dateon routine vaccines. The CDC dividesvaccine for travel into 3 categories:routine, recommended, and required.Routine vaccines include influenza,measles, mumps, andrubella, and diphtheria,pertussis, and tetanus.
Recommended vaccinesdepend on certainfactors, such asdestination, age, healthstatus, and previousimmunizations.The vaccinesinclude hepatitisA, hepatitis B, andpolio. The InternationalHealth Regulations currentlyonly require 2vaccines for travel tospecific parts of the world. The vaccineagainst yellow fever is required for travelto certain countries in sub-SaharanAfrica and tropical South America. Themeningococcal vaccination is requiredby the government of Saudi Arabia forannual travel during the period of theHajj. Other vaccines are required fortravel to certain countries, such as thoseagainst typhoid fever, rabies, cholera,and Japanese encephalitis.
Patient counseling is a critical partof travel medicine services to reducethe risk of travel-related injury anddisease.Pharmacists should obtaininformation related to the patient'shealth status, medical conditions, andmedications, as well as specific informationabout the patient's destination.Pharmacists also can advise patientson how to deal with jet lag, venousthromboembolism, motion sickness,and traveler's diarrhea.
Travel medicine services are a revenuebooster for pharmacies. During pharmacist?patient counseling,pharmacists are in aunique position to recommendhealth-relatedOTC products. Theseproducts include sunscreen,insect repellent,hand cleansers, motionsickness treatment, andtopical nasal sprays.
Pharmacists' training,skills, and knowledgeafford them opportunitiesto expand theirservices. The integrationof travel medicine into communitypharmacies may increase access forpatients who might not otherwise havesought care before embarking on foreigntravel.