Vaccination as a health intervention is one of the most successful and cost-effective methods – second only to clean water – at addressing preventable disease. The need to maintain a high level of vaccination in the community, coupled with a need to address misinformation and disinformation about vaccination, are paramount to delivering good health to people around the world
Pharmacists are highly trusted health professionals who practice in all healthcare settings throughout the world, and are highly accessible across all our communities. Here we have a highly skilled and trusted health workforce, delivering an effective and impactful health intervention. Yet the role of pharmacists in the delivery of vaccination services has been hampered by several factors:
- Undergraduate pharmacy degrees do not always include vaccination service delivery as a core component of the qualification
- Barriers to the use of pharmacists in the delivery of vaccination services, including laws and regulations that do not support pharmacists to participate in the delivery of vaccination services
- Decentralisation of clinical records, making it difficult to determine a person’s vaccination history; where clinical records are centralised in a digital platform, pharmacists may not have access to these records.
The FIP Commitments to transforming vaccination globally and regionally.
1. Pharmacists, pharmaceutical scientists, and pharmacist academics will commit to improving healthcare outcomes with regards to access, equity, and quality by delivering the safest possible vaccines and vaccine-related services in the form that is most acceptable to healthcare consumers by all pharmacists in all settings.
2. Pharmacists will contribute to expanding vaccination pathways, especially for adults, in all countries, with the goal of increasing vaccination coverage globally, regionally and locally, in line with the FIP Development Goals.
3. Pharmacists and their organisations will strive towards equity of access to disease prevention interventions, including vaccinations, regardless of age, gender, income, location, ethnicity or other factors, leaving no-one behind.
4. Pharmacists will integrate the delivery of all vaccinations into their practice in all settings, in collaboration with health systems and authorities, other healthcare professions and education and training institutions.
5. Pharmacists, pharmaceutical academics, workforce planners and professional regulators will evolve undergraduate qualifications, workforce development, and professional regulations to ensure and maintain ongoing capacity (professionally and logistically) and competence by pharmacists in all settings to administer vaccines and provide vaccine-related services, ranging from supply to community education and awareness.
6. Pharmaceutical scientists will strive to improve vaccine uptake by developing vaccines that are efficacious, safe, practical to supply and deliver and acceptable to healthcare consumers.
7. Pharmacists and their organisations will advocate for legislative frameworks that provide the regulatory assurance of pharmacist-delivered vaccination services and define the conditions, criteria, and accountability for this activity as part of pharmacists’ scope of practice.
8. Pharmacist and organisations will contribute to building vaccine confidence by addressing vaccine hesitancy, concerns, misinformation and disinformation, ensuring that all people have access to reliable information and evidence-based advice about their safety, efficacy and value. Pharmacists will support ongoing antimicrobial stewardship by providing the highest level of vaccination for preventable diseases in all settings.
9. Pharmacists will collaborate with other health care providers to ensure the local workforce is best utilised to ensure maximum vaccination utilisation and coverage, while striving towards the autonomy of vaccination providers to deliver vaccines as per agreed protocols and criteria.
10. Pharmacists and their organisations will advocate for appropriate funding models for vaccines and vaccination services that ensure equity of access for all at the point of delivery across all vaccination providers.
11. FIP commits to increasing vaccination by empowering pharmacists in delivering vaccination services, strengthening undergraduate qualification in the area of pharmacist vaccination, addressing legislative and regulatory barriers to full pharmacist participation in vaccination delivery, and ensuring pharmacists have access to shared records that facilitate collaborative health care and vaccination service delivery.
In addition, pharmacists and member organisations will commit to drive previous FIP undertakings, including the FIP Call to action to expand the role of community pharmacies in vaccination, including the 7 action points:
1. Recognise and fully harness the potential and convenience of community pharmacies for public health, primary healthcare and disease prevention strategies, including vaccination.
2. Foster the full integration of community pharmacies in healthcare systems, by creating the regulatory and operational conditions for inter-professional collaboration, including access to shared patient health records and vaccination records.
3. Expand the regulatory scope of practice of appropriately trained and certified pharmacists to authorise them to administer a broad range of vaccines beyond infancy.
4. Promote the competence of pharmacists in vaccine administration through the development of the required knowledge and skills as an integral part of pharmacists’ foundational education and training, and/or through continuing professional development opportunities.
5. Invest in prevention strategies, including vaccines and vaccination services by all providers, including pharmacists, to ensure equity in access to vaccinations and the sustainability of the service.
6. Ensure health system readiness for mass immunisation against current and any future pandemics or other emerging diseases as soon as vaccines are available.
The above measures are urgently needed to ensure equitable access to vaccines and vaccination services to all people around the world, across all ages and leaving no-one behind, to reduce the burden of vaccine-preventable diseases, and so that pharmacists can play an even greater part in the fight against emerging diseases.