Pharmacists respond to unprecedented demand for the flu vaccine in the wake of the current shortage

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Pharmacists are responding to unprecedented demand for the flu vaccine in the wake of the current shortage. The pharmacist is on the front line in addressing consumers’ questions and concerns about the availability of the vaccine and in helping Americans understand the CDC’s priorities for administration of the immunization.

Please see the attached American Pharmacists Association (APhA) statement.

It’s American Pharmacists Month. The American Pharmacists Association invites consumers to talk to a pharmacist toll-free on October 12 and 19 between 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Eastern time. Dial: 1-877-2 MY MEDS.

The American Pharmacists Association is dedicated to improving medication use and advancing patient care. Founded in 1852 as the American Pharmaceutical Association, APhA is the first-established and largest professional association of pharmacists in the United States. Our more than 50,000 members include pharmacists, scientists, student pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and others interested in advancing the profession.

The American Pharmacists Association (APhA) issued guidance to pharmacists across the country in response to recent changes in the 2004-05 influenza vaccine supply situation. APhA strongly encourages pharmacists and their contractors who possess influenza vaccine to ensure that the vaccine is administered to patients at greatest risk of complications if they get the flu, in accordance with CDC guidelines.

Pharmacists are encouraged to communicate with patients who are most in need of an influenza immunization regarding the importance of getting immunized and help patients identify where vaccine is available within their community during the current flu season.

According to CDC, patients who should be immunized include:

  • all children aged 6–23 months
  • adults aged >65 years,
  • persons aged 2–64 years with underlying chronic medical conditions,
  • all women who will be pregnant during influenza season,
  • residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities,
  • children 6 months–18 years of age on long-term aspirin therapy,
  • health-care workers with direct patient care, and
  • out-of-home caregivers and household contacts of children aged < 6 months.

Healthy persons who are 5–49 years of age and not pregnant, including health-care workers (except those who care for severely immunocompromised patients in special care units) and persons caring for children aged <6 months are encouraged to be vaccinated with intranasally administered live, attenuated influenza vaccine.

“Pharmacists are in a prime position to identify patients and educate them on their need for an influenza vaccination,” said John A. Gans, PharmD, APhA Executive Vice President. “Many of these patients are taking chronic medications. As a result, pharmacists can utilize prescription records to identify and, in many cases, immunize those patients against influenza and pneumococcal disease. During this time of limited influenza vaccine supply, communities must collaborate and ensure that pharmacists and other providers with vaccine are administering it to those in need of the protection according to CDC guidelines. It’s not a matter of who has the vaccine but that they are administering it to the right patients.”

APhA recommends the following for patients:

  • Patients who do not meet the current CDC indications for vaccination should allow other patients in need the opportunity to be immunized. Avoid placing health care providers in an awkward position.
  • Patients should discuss the need for immunizations with their pharmacist or other healthcare professionals. In over 40 U.S. states, pharmacists may administer immunizations. Pharmacists are a resource in all states for immunization information.
  • Discuss ways you can protect yourself from getting the flu with your pharmacist or other healthcare professional. In addition, talk to your pharmacist or other healthcare professional if you have flu-like symptoms regarding treatment options and preventing the spread of flu.

“APhA is committed to facilitating pharmacists’ active and responsible participation in national, state and local immunization efforts. Pharmacists are accessible health care professionals and practice in more than 52,000 community pharmacies and most health care institutions across the United States, affording significant opportunities to identify and educate individuals most in need of information about disease prevention. We are committed to working with CDC and other pubic health partners in serving the public’s healthcare needs,” concluded Dr. Gans.

The American Pharmacists Association is the first established and largest professional association of pharmacists in the United States. APhA’s 50,000 members include practicing pharmacists, pharmaceutical scientists, student pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and others interested in improving medication use and advancing patient care. The Association is a leader in providing professional information and education for pharmacists and an advocate for improved health.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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