Celebrate pharmacists making a global impact during World Immunization Week

Most countries have still not reached optimal vaccination coverage

Pharmacists in the United States have established themselves as valuable members of the immunization neighborhood, and pharmacists across the world are following their lead. Still, as of 2016, global efforts to enhance uptake of immunization have stalled. World Immunization Week, an initiative led by the World Health Organization (WHO), is an opportunity to spread the word about how pharmacists can help save millions of lives as immunizers and educators.

The theme of this year’s World Immunization Week, celebrated April 24–30, is “Protected Together, #VaccinesWork.”

“This is an important message to get out to our communities, especially in the face of recent misinformation campaigns that have decreased immunization coverage,” said Dominique Jordan, a pharmacist in Switzerland who serves as chair of the International Pharmaceutical Federation’s (FIP) Board of Pharmaceutical Practice.

World Immunization Week emphasizes that immunization saves between 2 and 3 million lives each year, is a wise investment in heath, can be delivered through outreach activities, and improves global health without requiring major lifestyle changes.

The week aims to drive immunization coverage by spotlighting the roles governments, public health organizations, health care providers, caregivers, and advocates can have in advancing these efforts.

“Pharmacists around the world are ensuring that vaccines reach people. Most countries have still not reached optimal vaccination coverage in several important diseases,” Jordan said. “If pharmacists were [authorized] to administer vaccines, since we are the most accessible health care professional and ideally positioned to reach people who do not often visit their physician, the gains could be huge.”

Pharmacists face barriers to recognition as immunizers, such as the perception that they are unprepared for vaccine-related adverse effects or that the costs associated with cold-chain distribution services to pharmacies are prohibitive. Members of the pharmacy community may have concerns about fitting immunization into workflow and distractions from pharmacists’ core functions of dispensing and medication management. And third parties reimburse immunizing pharmacists in only seven countries.

Pharmacists and others who want to participate in World Immunization Week can use the #vaccineswork hashtag on their social media posts on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or other social media platforms.

“We can all play a part in spreading the message about our value, and so I would suggest readers follow FIP on social media and share, share, share, between April 24 and 30,” Jordan said. Visit FIP’s website at www.fip.org to access the videos, and follow FIP on Facebook at www.facebook.com/FIPpharmacists, on Twitter at @fiporg, and on LinkedIn.

WHO also has social media–ready resources on its website. Access these materials at https://apha.us/WHOImmunizationWeek.

For the full article, please visit www.pharmacytoday.org for the April 2018 issue of Pharmacy Today.