Pharmacists play a vital role in providing education and administering influenza, COVID-19, and RSV Vaccines
Approximately 90% of individuals in the United States live within 5 miles of a community pharmacy, making pharmacists the most accessible health care professionals, particularly when it comes to administering vaccines.1 In fact, more adults were vaccinated at pharmacies than nonpharmacy medical settings between 2018 and 2022, according to a report by the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science and the Global Healthy Living Foundation.1 Additionally, most children received their COVID-19 vaccines from pharmacies during the same period.1
Through medication therapy management (MTM), pharmacists play an important role in offering education and administering influenza, COVID-19, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccines (Figure2-7).
VACCINES AND MTM
Staying up-to-date on the latest vaccines is critical for MTM consultations and preparing for the upcoming season. Arexvy from GSK and Abrysvo from Pfizer received the green light from the FDA in May 2023 as the first 2 RSV vaccines.2,3 They are approved to prevent lower respiratory tract disease in adults 60 years or older. Additionally, the CDC recommends these RSV vaccines through shared clinical decision- making with patients’ health care providers.4
Influenza and RSV vaccines are currently available, and updated COVID-19 boosters are expected to be out this fall. Moderna and Pfizer- BioNTech have submitted their regulatory applications to the FDA for their Omicron XBB.1.5 monovalent COVID-19 vaccines.5,6
Additionally, scientists have identified the strains to include in vaccines for the 2023-2024 influenza season.8 September and October are ideal times for most individuals to receive an influenza vaccine.
Importantly, the US Department of Health & Human Services amended the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act, extending coverage for pharmacy personnel through December 2024 to administer seasonal influenza and COVID-19 vaccines to individuals 3 years or older.9 This helps to ensure that children and adults have access to vaccines at their local pharmacies.
Evidence demonstrates that pharmacist involvement in patient education and administering vaccines improves immunization uptake.10 It is critical for pharmacists to assess the immunization status of patients during MTM consultations.7
The next step is to strongly recommend vaccines that patients need. Pharmacists can address concerns, but they should emphasize that vaccines provide protection for patients and their families against serious diseases.7 Pharmacists play a vital role in countering vaccine misinformation.
After administering vaccines, pharmacists should document the information in their state’s immunization registry. Pharmacists should also follow up with patients about necessary COVID-19 boosters.7 This is especially critical for patients 65 years or older, individuals with chronic health conditions, or those who are immunocompromised.
Pharmacists can use the CDC’s adult vaccine assessment tool during MTM consultations to determine which immunizations are recommended for their patients.11 This free online resource applies to individuals 19 years or older, and it includes a series of 9 questions.11 After submitting responses, vaccine recommendations are displayed.
About the Author
Jennifer Gershman, PharmD, CPH, PACS, is a drug information pharmacist and Pharmacy Times contributor who resides in South Florida.