N.L. among five provinces not offering vaccination through pharmacies
A report recently released by Canada’s largest retail pharmacy chain is calling on Newfoundland and Labrador and several other Canadian provinces and territories to allow pharmacists to administer flu vaccinations.
The Pharmacists’ Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (PANL) is among a number of groups endorsing the Shoppers Drug Mart report, titled “Sustainable Solutions Report: A Focus on Immunization.”
Boyd Riggs, a pharmacist with Shoppers Drug Mart in Conception Bay South, told The Telegram that the role his profession plays in providing health care has evolved over time. While pharmacists still primarily dispense drugs, they also help with managing medications for patients and providing information about prescriptions.
Pharmacists in Alberta, British Columbia and New Brunswick administer flu shots in addition to several other vaccinations, including those for HPV, tetanus, hepatitis A and B, and herpes zoster.
Ontario also allows pharmacists to handle flu shots, with 436,000 residents having been vaccinated at pharmacies in the current flu season as of Nov. 22, according to the report. Nova Scotia began doing the same for the first time this year.
“The good news that comes out of that for us is that it certainly improves accessibility for customers and patients who are out there to receive this service,” said Riggs. “It certainly makes it convenient given the fact that drugstores are open in a lot of cases seven days a week. We have extended hours, and we actually have stores that are open 24 hours a day.”
According to the findings of the Shoppers Drug Mart report, physicians are agreeable to having pharmacists administer flu shots. It found that 67 per cent of general practitioners surveyed said they would trust pharmacists to give flu vaccinations, and 61 per cent said all provinces should give them the authority to do so.
Sixty-one per cent of general practitioners said allowing pharmacists to administer flu vaccinations will improve immunization rates, while 53 per cent agreed that it is more convenient for patients to go to a pharmacy to get vaccinated for influenza.
This fall, PANL released a report highlighting the benefits of increasing the role of pharmacists in health-care delivery. It found that allowing pharmacists in Newfoundland and Labrador to administer flu shots could save the province $1.1 million in health-care spending annually.
“Presenting this as the win situation that it is for everybody, I think that government is more likely to take a look at it, give it a little more consideration, and use what (Eastern Health president and CEO Vickie) Kaminski referred to a number of months ago as best practices in other provinces,” said Riggs. “This is a best practice in other provinces, and we’re all on side with this.”
The Shoppers Drug Mart report also calls for improved electronic communication between pharmacists, physicians and public-health workers in order to keep each other updated about the immunization status of patients.