A recent publication from The American Journal of Managed Care® (AJMC®), the leading peer-reviewed journal dedicated to issues in managed care, addresses the role of community pharmacies in boosting adult vaccination rates in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adult vaccination rates remain low for a variety of vaccines, including influenza, pneumococcal, and herpes zoster. As educated and accessible healthcare providers, community pharmacists are poised to increase immunization rates through outreach efforts and convenient administration of vaccines.
In this publication, available alongside the July issue of AJMC®, challenges and opportunities in immunization practices and highlights barriers to optimal community-based vaccination are examined. In addition, potential paths for optimizing reimbursement for immunization-related services through benefits design are explored.
Discussing the significance of vaccinations within the broader economy of healthcare, Jason Gallagher, PharmD, noted, "There are few 'one and done' interventions in healthcare that are both noninvasive and prevent disease. I believe that our internal programming that tells us to vaccinate certain populations has become so automatic that, while this is a good thing, we under-appreciate just how much morbidity and mortality is prevented through vaccination."
Despite various challenges related to access and awareness, pharmacists will continue to make a positive impact on the immunization spectrum. "Pharmacist-led immunization has increased vaccination rates across the country and allowed physicians to spend more time with their patients during office visits", Jennifer Gershman, PharmD, CPH, said.
Offering education, advice, and guidance, in addition to providing a venue for and the administration of vaccinations, community pharmacists are in a highly beneficial position when it comes to helping public health efforts aimed to closing the vaccination gap. In concert with these efforts, healthcare professionals within the managed care community can identify additional opportunities—particularly in the spectrum of benefits design—to improve the infrastructure of vaccine delivery in the United States.