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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  1. Toby

    If it were greed, we wouldn’t be doing it for $8.95, like a very prominent pharmacy chain is. Argument concluded.

  2. Paige

    It is 100% greed, that’s why there is price gouging. The GP criticism is out of greed that they’ve lost their slice. Don’t call its something it’s not. Its revenue raising, it just happens to have positive health outcomes aswell, so win win.

    • Tim Hewitt

      ouch!.. thats a bit harsh i think.. Pharmacies, like most other businesses respond to ‘consumer demand’ (well, they should anyway!).. so if there is demand, then there will be uptake of the offer.. as for price, that’s where the ‘greed’ (or stupidity) comes in.. pharmacists are not accustomed to charging for their skills and expertise (unlike tradesman), and are very used to ‘giving it away’.. They also lack the confidence to put a price on themselves. In most industries, the new product/offer is initially expensive (as sellers try to cash in.. apple are good at this..) and then price comes down over time as scale, copy cats etc kicks in.. in pharmacy (because there’s a lot of stupidity) the new offer kicks of at rock bottom price, then goes lower, until it’s not worth it, then pharmacists will decide not to do it anymore, and it will die, and then someone else will do it, charge more, make money and the good old pharmacist will be left wondering what went wrong..again.. (sorry didn’t mean to go on quite this long..)..

  3. Bruce ANNABEL

    Improving patient health and being fairly remunerated in return for providing the service by trained health professionals in a professional and very convenient (for the patient) environment makes a lot of sense. And pharmacist administered vaccinations gets pharmacists accustomed to delivering valued health services via direct engagement with patients. Besides in many other countries pharmacy administered vaccinations is common such as the USA.

  4. Paul Sapardanis

    Why are we embarrassed that our motivation is about making a dollar? If a patient benefits and we make dollar is that not a win win. Maybe would should take this attitude to other aspects of our business. I for one will not offer any service unless there is a financial benefit

  5. William

    I think that their motivation is to try to get a role for pharmacists. Supermarkets, other grocery have taken traditional chemist shop trade.
    The role of pharmacists has changed from “compounders” of medicines to only being label stickers. Automatic “dispensing” of scripts is just around the corner with advances in computers, robotics etc becoming affordable and plentiful.
    Nurses have taken over some of medicos roles so pharmacists are seeking to provide other “professional” type services to justify their existence. Yes a side benefit may be more penetration of vaccinations.
    The good old days of pharmacy are well and truly over I am afraid. There will be fewer outlets and massive automation.

  6. Toby

    So the doctors do the vaccinations for free then? Don’t get paid at least $50 to $80 each time by Medicare? What saints.

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