Screening: The Key to Increasing Immunization in the Pharmacy

Screening tools are needed so that health care professionals can offer immunizations at every convenient opportunity.

Record-keeping is one of the greatest challenges to universal vaccination coverage. Patients can be vaccinated in a number of places—doctors’ offices, employee health offices, walk-in clinics, and of course pharmacies—and often, they don’t remember when or where (or even if) they received an immunization. Screening tools are needed so that health care professionals can offer immunizations at every convenient opportunity.

Moose Pharmacy, an independent, family owned and operated pharmacy in rural North Carolina, implemented a comprehensive vaccine screening program. A report, published in Journal of the American Pharmacists Association, includes key points to improve workflow.1

Moose Pharmacy is known for its provision of comprehensive patient care, allowing clinical pharmacists and pharmacy residents to practice at the top of their licenses. The study was conducted at Moose Pharmacy’s 5 dispensing pharmacy locations that fill from 750 to 2800 prescriptions each week.

Clinical pharmacists developed a vaccine screening tool and documentation form, modeling it on recommendations from the CDC. They addressed all immunizations that North Carolina allows to be administered by pharmacists.

Pharmacy team members used the screening tool to identify adult patients who had entered the pharmacy and needed vaccinations. Pharmacists offered needed immunizations when the screening tool successfully identified a patient who was not fully up to date with their recommended immunizations. If the patient agreed, he or she received the immunization. If not, the pharmacist documented the reason for the refusal.

During the 30-day study period, staff (usually technicians, who assumed leading roles in this effort) screened 631 patients. Most screenings occurred during data entry, although a minority were competed at fill stations, prescription verification, or during clinical consultation. Pharmacists administered 11 influenza, 5 pneumococcal conjugate, 1 pneumococcal polysaccharide, 5 Tdap, and 6 zoster vaccines. This represents a 7-fold increase in vaccination for these pharmacies compared to the same month in the previous year.

The researchers concluded that pharmacist-driven recommendations have the capability to increase vaccination rates 200-fold.


Rhodes LA, Branham AR, Dalton ER, et al. Implementation of a vaccine screening program at an independent community pharmacy. J Am Pharm Assoc. 2016; 1-7.

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