Is pharmacist vaccination motivated by greed?

AJP readers came back with this response

Over the past few weeks, we have run a poll to ask our readers: why do you want to vaccinate?

The topic arose after prominent GP Dr Edwin Kruys publicly criticised the positive findings of a study on pharmacist-administered vaccinations.

“Recently we’ve heard about the ‘success’ of pharmacy trials in several states,” he wrote about a Curtin University evaluation of WA trials, which reported that more than 15,000 vaccinations had been administered in pharmacy with no adverse effects.

“However, the question arises: by what measure are the trials a success?” he asked.

Dr Kruys also suggested there was a conflict of interest regarding pharmacist-administered vaccinations, citing issues with upselling and commercial practices.

Lead author of the trial evaluation, Dr Laetitia Hattingh, told the AJP that part of the WA research included asking pharmacists what was driving their interest in vaccination.

“Profit is the least likely consideration for the pharmacist in deciding to offer the service,” she said.

“The highest rating was given to wanting to enhance the role of pharmacists, and the second was to increase consumer vaccination rates. Out of six options, the lowest one by far was for financial gain.”

What you said

The majority of voters (45%) said their main interest in providing vaccination services was “to increase immunisation rates in the community”.

Meanwhile, 17% of respondents said they were not interested in providing flu vaccination services at all – in fact, this was the second most popular choice.

Eleven percent said they wanted to vaccinate “to expand the role of pharmacists”, while eight percent said they wanted “to provide better care to my patients”.

And while 5% said they wanted to do it for professional satisfaction, 4% said they were in it “to make money”.

“To be competitive with other pharmacies” and “to make myself more attractive as an employee” received the lowest number of votes (1% each).

These poll results align with Dr Hattingh’s original findings that pharmacists are mostly motivated by reasons other than financial gain to provide vaccination services, such as to increase immunisation rates in the community.

The study had revealed provision of pharmacist vaccination services facilitated access for rural and remote people who may have otherwise not received a vaccination.

“Our research did show that some patients still qualified under the National Immunisation Program, but still chose to have their vaccination done in pharmacy,” she told the AJP.

“And if they want to go to a pharmacy and pay the $25 that’s their choice – the fact is that the Government saves a lot of money from people getting vaccinated in pharmacy.

“Those people also don’t pay the consultation fee – if they get the vaccine from their doctor, the doctor still gets money from the Government, and the patient sometimes also has to pay an additional private fee to that doctor anyway.

“This is about choice, convenience and accessibility,” she said.

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