CDC Praises Pharmacists' Vaccine Efforts

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is applauding the accomplishments of pharmacists as the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) nears the 20th anniversary of its pharmacy-based immunization delivery certificate training program.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is applauding the accomplishments of pharmacists as the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) nears the 20th anniversary of its pharmacy-based immunization delivery certificate training program.

In a letter to all pharmacists, Assistant Surgeon General Anne Schuchat, MD, the principal deputy director for the CDC, recognized the important role that pharmacists have played in reducing vaccine-preventable illness by improving patient access to vaccines and public awareness.

A few of the accomplishments Dr. Schuchat pointed out include:

* The number of pharmacists trained to provide immunization services has increased from 40,000 in 2007 to more than 260,000 in 2015.

* In 1996, pharmacist could provide the flu vaccine in only 14 states. In 2009, pharmacists could provide flu vaccines in all states.

* The number of adults receiving vaccinations in community settings, including pharmacies, has grown from 6% during the 2004-2005 flu season to more than 18% during the 2013-2014 flu season.

* Pharmacists themselves have been getting immunized at rates around 90% over the past few years.

Dr. Schuchat also applauded increased efforts to train pharmacy students on immunizations, noting that all accredited pharmacy schools must provide immunization training as part of their core curricula starting next year.

She also highlighted APhA’s idea of an immunization neighborhood where collaboration, coordination, and communication are used to protect the community from preventable diseases.

While Dr. Schuchat praised this ideal, she also called for further work to improve vaccination rates, stating that racial and ethnic disparities in coverage persist. She also called for pharmacists to keep building immunization neighborhoods and implement National Vaccine Advisory Committee Standards for Adult Immunization Practice, which helps keep patients up-to-date with their immunizations.

“Your practice sites provide an excellent opportunity for reinforcement of public health messages, assessment of patients’ immunization needs, strong recommendations for needed vaccines, and the provision of immunization services when indicated,” Dr. Schuchat wrote. In a press release, APhA said the letter was especially appreciated during American Pharmacists Month (APhM), which celebrates the pharmacy profession and recognizes the important role of the pharmacist.

APhA executive vice president and CEO Thomas E. Menighan, BSPharm, MBA, ScH (Hon), FAPhA, wrote in the press release that the CDC’s letter served as evidence that more and more patients are getting to know their pharmacist—echoing this year’s theme of APhM: “Know Your Pharmacist, Know Your Medicine.”

“The accomplishments Dr. Schuchat mentioned in her letter occurred because of the hard work, leadership, and dedication of APhA staff, leaders, members, and partners within and outside of the pharmacy profession,” Menighan wrote. “And they were achieved because practitioners stepped up and took care of patients—millions of them!”