Pharmacy-based immunization services increase influenza, pneumococcal vaccination rates

JAPhA study: Millions of additional vaccinations are given each year because of ready access at pharmacies

Pharmacy-based immunization services have increased influenza and pneumococcal vaccinations by millions since immunizations became more commonplace in the community pharmacy setting, say researchers in a paper published online in the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association.

In the study, researchers used data from patient surveys conducted by CDC’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System and pharmacy-level data from a large chain pharmacy on the availability of live attenuated vaccine (LAIV). All data came from 2006 through 2010, a time when changes in immunization policy led to a significant push to offer vaccination services in pharmacies. The researchers used LAIV availability as a proxy for pharmacy-based immunization services because its storage requirements make it less likely that pharmacies would sell it to be administered at other locations, and the researchers assumed that if a pharmacy was providing LAIV, it was also providing pneumococcal and inactive influenza vaccines. The researchers then merged data to determine whether more widespread availability of pharmacy-based immunizations had actually increased vaccination rates above and beyond national trends, versus merely shifting immunization services away from other providers.

Upon analyzing the data, the researchers found that pharmacy-based immunization services had exploded during the years studied. In 2010, pharmacy-based immunization was available in 97% of counties, up from only 36% of counties in 2006. Adult influenza vaccination rates increased from 40% in 2006 to 49% in 2010, and adult pneumococcal vaccination rates grew from 28% in 2006 to 35% in 2010. Furthermore, the researchers estimate that 6.2 million additional influenza immunizations and 3.5 million pneumococcal immunizations are given each year because they are offered at pharmacies.