Despite Providing More Economical Care, Pharmacy-Based Vaccination Is Underused

Pharmacy Times, September 2014 Oncology, Volume 80, Issue 9

According to a study published in the September 2014 issue of the Journal of Managed Care Pharmacy, the cost of vaccination in pharmacies is lower than the cost of vaccines administered in physicians’ offices and other medical settings.

Investigators Singhal et al analyzed data from the 2010 Market- Scan database and Medicare records to analyze patterns of vaccination with herpes zoster, shingles, pneumococcal, and influenza vaccines.

For the zoster vaccine, the cost per vaccine paid by insurance was highest in physicians’ offices, at an average cost of $208.72; intermediate in cost in other medical settings, at $209.51; and lowest in pharmacy settings at $168.50 (P <.05). Similarly, the cost of pneumococcal vaccination was significantly less expensive to insurance companies when administered in pharmacies, with an average cost of $65.69 per vaccination in a physician’s office, $72.11 in other medical settings, and $54.98 in pharmacy settings (P <.05). Influenza vaccination was also administered more economically in pharmacy settings, with an average cost of $29.29 per vaccination in a physician’s office, $24.20 in other medical settings, and $21.57 in pharmacy settings (P <.05).

Despite the economic benefits of pharmacy-based vaccination to insurers and the increased accessibility to patients, most zoster, pneumococcal, and influenza vaccines are still administered in a physician’s office. A total of 70% of zoster vaccines, 92% of pneumococcal vaccines, and 85% of influenza vaccines are administered in physician office settings. Contrasting with these statistics, 25% of zoster vaccines, 1% of pneumococcal vaccines, and 7% of influenza vaccines are administered in pharmacy settings.

This study shows that to improve access to care and reduce costs, insurers should encourage more pharmacy-based vaccination among beneficiaries. Regionally, pharmacybased vaccination was more common in the Western and Southern United States than in other areas of the country.