Pharmacists could potentially vaccinate one in eight people in the world, new data suggest
At least 940 million people live in countries where over 193,000 community pharmacies can potentially offer access to vaccination services, according to new research commissioned by the International Pharmaceutical Federation.
Based on a global population of 7.4 billion, this represents at least one in eight people, says FIP.
Of the 45 countries surveyed by the FIP Collaborating Centre, University College London, nearly half (44%) had community pharmacy premises offering vaccinations, the researchers found.
An increasing number of countries were also introducing immunisation rights specifically for pharmacists.
In 13 of the 45 countries, pharmacists themselves had the authority to administer vaccines with the potential to reach 655 million people, the researchers estimate.
These findings were published in a global report, An overview of current pharmacy impact on immunisation, released on Monday 29 August at an international meeting of pharmacy leaders held in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
“The World Health Organization estimates that vaccination saves between two and three million lives each year,” said Dr Helena Rosado, report co-author and research scientist at UCL School of Pharmacy.
“The accessibility and distribution of community pharmacies make them a first point of contact for patients, providing an excellent opportunity to address low immunisation coverage.”
The authors also noted an anomaly in the funding of vaccination services in Australia.
“In Australia, currently community pharmacies do not receive any financial support from the government for provision of immunisation services and as such the service is fully funded by community pharmacies and patients are charged a private price,” they wrote.
“Some banner groups have chosen to engage doctors and immunising nurses so that they can claim the administration of the vaccine on the Medicare Benefits Scheme (MBS), rather than using a vaccinating pharmacist who cannot claim the service on the MBS.”
The findings also highlight that, in some countries, vaccine administration is part of the pharmacy undergraduate curriculum and that the perceived competition threat to other health care professionals providing immunisation services is diminishing.
The Pharmacy Guild of Australia has welcomed the report, saying it highlights the role pharmacists can play in vaccination services.
“This report confirms the wisdom of Australian regulatory authorities moving to allow pharmacists to be trained to administer vaccinations across Australia,” said Guild Acting National President, Tim Logan.
Vaccination by pharmacists adds significantly to levels of immunity and improved the health prospects of tens of thousands of Australians who might not otherwise have been vaccinated, said Logan.