Pharmacist-Administered Vaccinations Show Increase Since Onset of COVID-19 Pandemic

Across all vaccines for adults, regardless of income, location, or sex, most of the administration took place in a pharmacy, report shows.

The number of individuals receiving vaccines at pharmacies nationwide has increased compared with physician practices in 2020 and 2021, according to the results of a report published by The Global Healthy Living Foundation.

The results showed that across all vaccines for adults, regardless of income, location, or sex, most of the administration took place in a pharmacy.

The most common vaccines administered by pharmacists compared with physicians included COVID-19, flu, and shingles, with human papillomavirus (HPV) also pneumococcal vaccines also trending higher.

“Our research shows that immunization rates improve when pharmacists and pharmacy technicians are authorized to vaccinate adults,” Robert Popovian, PharmD, MS, chief science policy officer at the Global Healthy Living Foundation, said in a statement. “It’s time to permanently codify the [Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP)] Act into federal and state law while further expanding authorization to empower pharmacists, pharmacy interns, and pharmacy technicians to administer all FDA approved and/or Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended vaccines, like their physician colleagues.”

The report was commissioned by the Global Healthy Living Foundation and the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science better understand immunization access following the PREP Act and other modifications made during the COVID-19 pandemic. These changes also included pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to administer select vaccines without a prescriber order.

In 2024, the PREP Act will lapse in 25 states where it has not yet been made permanent by state laws.

Additionally, the report showed that most of the adult COVID-19 and shingles vaccines that were administered took place at pharmacies, and approximately 60% of vaccinations during the flu season also took place at pharmacies.

“Broadening vaccination authority in pharmacies will increase immunization rates, reduce overall health care costs, and save lives, laying the groundwork for a better, stronger, and fairer health care system for all,” Seth Ginsberg, president and co-founder of Global Healthy Living Foundation, said in the statement.

For HPV, investigators found that in 2018, just 5% of vaccines were administered in pharmacies, but by the end of 2021, the number grew to approximately 20%.

Further, they found that pneumococcal vaccinations in trending upwards correlated with the flu season.

“The COVID[-19] pandemic led to unprecedented cooperation and effort to improve immunization rates to stem the immediate threat of illness and bridge gaps in health equity, which in turn spotlighted the role pharmacists play as an essential member of the health care team,” Popovian said.

For children, a large majority of COVID-19 vaccines were administered at pharmacies compared with other medical settings. For flu vaccinations, there was also a slight increase in pharmacy administration in 2020 and 2021 compared with 2018 and 2019.

Investigators also found that Asian-American and Hispanic populations receive more vaccines at pharmacies compared with other ethnic and racial populations.

Reference

Report demonstrates that pharmacist-administered vaccinations have increased since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Business Wire. News release. January 18, 2023. Accessed January 18, 2023. https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20230117005853/en

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