Travel Immunization in the Pharmacy: Exploring the Growing Opportunity

January 17, 2019
Sonya Kremenchugsky, PharmD Candidate

US citizens are increasingly traveling to international destinations, with Americans making 38 million visits abroad in 2017. Fortunately, pharmacists are well-placed to assist patients in their travel health needs.

US citizens are increasingly traveling to international destinations, with Americans making 38 million visits abroad in 2017. Fortunately, pharmacists are well-placed to assist patients with their travel health needs.

An article published in the December 2018 of Pharmacy reviewed studies on pharmacy-based travel services. The outcomes of the studies support the role of pharmacists in the travel-health services setting.

Pharmacists’ scope of practice in administering travel vaccines varies by state (Table); notably, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Florida, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, and South Carolina have specific travel health training requirements. However, all pharmacists can provide counseling and over-the-counter medications and supplies for travel.

Statistics on Pharmacists’ Scope of Practice in the U.S.

Pharmacy Services

Number of Jurisdictions

Administer routine vaccines independently

15

Administer routine vaccines with a CPA or prescription

30

Administer all travel vaccines independently

8

Administer all travel vaccines with a CPA or prescription

36

Furnish prescription medications

25

Order laboratory test under a CPA

19

Pharmacists interested in travel health services can complete the APhA Pharmacy-based Immunization Delivery Certificate Training Program as a prerequisite for the APhA Advanced Competency Training Pharmacy-Based Travel Health Services program. The gold standard in travel health information is the International Society of Travel Medicine’s (ISTM’s) Body of Knowledge, which forms the basis for the society’s Certificate of Knowledge Examination. Those who pass earn a Certificate in Travel Health by the ISTM that must be renewed every 10 years.

Patient satisfaction was high when pharmacists delivered travel health services, according to the study. However, patients did not always accept the pharmacist’s recommendations for vaccines. Acceptance rates varied depending on the vaccine and the patient’s perceived risk of contacting the illness. Additionally, patients were primarily interested in travel-related vaccines and not routine vaccines.

The CDC provides resources on travel health that pharmacist can utilize and direct patients towards. Most patients receive travel information from airlines or a travel agencies that may fail to stress the importance of pre-travel vaccines. Pharmacists’ are at an ideal position at the forefront of patient-care to educate travelers on the vaccine preventable diseases they can encounter abroad.

Sonya Kremnchugsky is a 2019 PharmD candidate at the University of Connecticut School of Pharmacy.

Reference

Hurley-Kim K, Goad J, Seed S, Hess KM. Pharmacy-Based Travel Health Services in the United States. Pharmacy (Basel). 2018 Dec 27;7(1). pii: E5. doi: 10.3390/pharmacy7010005. Review. PubMed PMID: 30591674.