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November 2, 2020

Despite efforts by public health agencies and health-care professionals, Canada is not achieving its national immunization coverage goals.

Prior to the current global COVID-19 pandemic, in the 2018/19 influenza (flu) season, only 43% of adults (aged 18 to 64 years) with high-risk medical conditions and 70% of seniors (aged 65 years and older) received a flu vaccine. This falls short of the national target of immunizing 80% of high-risk individuals.

Similarly, Canada also falls short on the goal of 80% for pneumococcal immunization in seniors (58%) and tetanus immunization in adults (69%).

Results of the 2016 adult National Immunization Coverage Survey indicate that 79% of Canadian adults believe they know enough about the benefits of vaccines and 88% believe they are up-to-date on their vaccinations, despite only 3% reporting they have received the correct number of vaccines for their age/risk group. Pharmacists in B.C. are ideally positioned to help provide immunization services to address this gap.  

The majority of full registrant pharmacists with the College of Pharmacists of BC have authorization to administer immunizations. Pharmacists in B.C. also have the widest access to publicly funded vaccines in Canada, and can claim administration fees from PharmaCare. Data from the 2018/19 fiscal year indicates B.C. pharmacies claimed over 750,000 vaccine administration fees for publicly funded vaccines. In Canadian jurisdictions where pharmacists are permitted and reimbursed to administer flu vaccines, uptake has increased.

During the 2017/18 flu season, for the first time, more Canadian adults were immunized at pharmacies (34%) than physician offices (30%). Although Canadians may choose to receive their flu immunization from a pharmacy out of convenience, this is not the sole determining factor. Isenor et al. noted that 50% of immunization recipients in Nova Scotia indicated service was better in the pharmacy compared to other settings and 40% felt it was as good as other settings. Respondents also noted the positive environment, professionalism and knowledge of the pharmacists as appealing.  In our experience, feedback from patients who have received their influenza immunization from a pharmacist or student pharmacist at our clinic is also overwhelmingly positive.

Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences. University of British Columbia. Vancouver BC, Canada

With the current global pandemic, the pharmacists at Columbia Street Pharmacy are available to continue providing and prioritizing routine, yet essential, immunization services to avoid increases in vaccine-preventable diseases. This is a call to action for our pharmacists to practice to their full scope by integrating immunization assessments and administration as routine care in their practices. Please call the pharmacy to discuss or book online!

Despite efforts by public health agencies and health-care professionals, Canadians are not achieving: News
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