Study reveals GPs’ concerns over pharmacists’ participation in influenza vaccinations
Pharmacist involvement is perceived by GPs to be a barrier to the effective delivery of influenza vaccination to high-risk adults in a general practice setting.
A series of detailed interviews conducted by researchers found that while survey participants reported having the capability, opportunity and motivation to effectively deliver influenza vaccination to high-risk adults there were perceived barriers that may be leading to sub-optimal outcomes in at-risk groups.
Barriers identified included time pressures, complexity of patient consultations, difficulty reaching high-risk younger adults, issues related to optimal timing of influenza vaccination, inconsistent vaccine supply and pharmacist involvement in vaccination.
The full interviews, by researchers from the University of Sydney and the University of Notre Dame Sydney, were conducted with six general practitioners and eight practice nurses, recruited from “diverse locations across Australia”.
The GPs and GPNs all raised concerns regarding pharmacies providing influenza vaccination for high-risk adult populations.
Pharmacy influenza vaccination was mentioned by all participants in the study, the authors said. While some recognised the benefits, most notably increasing access, there was “consistent concern about governance and continuity of care. These concerns were perceived as barriers.”
“While there was some acknowledgement that allowing pharmacists to administer influenza vaccine had positive outcomes, including increased access and opportunity to receive a vaccination, participants also noted what they perceived as a disruption and barrier to the individual’s continuity of care”.
“I am concerned about potential hazards… how would a pharmacist manage someone who has a syncopal collapse because they have freaked out because they are having a needle or if they have an allergic reaction? How do they manage confidentiality and medical records?,” one of the GPs in the study said.
“The other problem with the pharmacy program is that there is fragmentation of healthcare so we are not getting info that patients have had vaccines and so we are flagging people down to say come and get your vaccine but they have already done it but we don’t know what they have had”.
Although other models such as council-run clinics exist, the same level of concern was not raised. This may be due to council-run clinics being an established service run by nurses with or without GPs, while pharmacist vaccination is new and involves a different professional group, the study authors suggested.
“If all pharmacists were required to provide details of vaccinations to a patient’s nominated GP, as is already the case in Victoria, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory (although the extent of compliance monitoring is unclear), this could partly address these concerns and avoid the need to check AIR data, which are known to be underreported for influenza vaccination,” they said.
The research was published in the Australian Journal of General Practice.