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Community pharmacies have the potential to vaccinate at least one in eight people right now, FIP says

At least 940 million people live in countries where over 193,000 community pharmacies can potentially offer access to vaccination services, according to new research commissioned by FIP. Based on a global population of 7.4 billion, this represents at least one in eight people.

A survey of 45 countries conducted by the FIP Collaborating Centre at University College London found that nearly a half (44%) have community pharmacy premises offering vaccinations, demonstrating the expansion and growing acceptance of pharmacy immunisation services around the world. An increasing number of countries are introducing immunisation rights specifically for pharmacists. In 13 of the 45 countries, pharmacists themselves have the authority to administer vaccines and, therefore, the potential to reach 655 million, the researchers estimate.

The findings of this study were published in a global report “An overview of current pharmacy impact on immunisation” released today at an international meeting of pharmacy leaders held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on the eve of the 76th annual World Congress of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

“The World Health Organization estimates that vaccination saves between two and three million lives each year. It is one of the safest, more efficient and cost-effective measures for preventing, controlling and eradicating life-threatening infectious diseases. The accessibility and distribution of community pharmacies make them a first point of contact for patients, providing an excellent opportunity to address low immunisation coverage,” said Dr Helena Rosado, research scientist at UCL School of Pharmacy and co-author of the report.

“With the recognition of the role of pharmacists as immunisers in the latest FIP-WHO guidelines on good pharmacy practice [2011], we considered it a good time to see how far this has been implemented. This report offers, for the first time, an international overview of pharmacists’ activities to support immunisation. We look forward to a day when pharmacists all over the world are recognised for their full potential and can add to the immunisations offered by other health care professionals, especially in to hard-to-reach and high-risk populations,” said FIP President Dr Carmen Peña.

The report includes in-depth case studies from Argentina, Australia, Belgium, France, Ireland, Philippines, Portugal, South Africa, Switzerland, UK and USA, with advancement examples that can potentially be adopted by other countries to advocate for a national immunisation strategy that actively involves pharmacists as part of the public health agenda. The findings also highlight that, in some countries, vaccine administration is part of the pharmacy undergraduate curriculum and that the perceived competition threat to other health care professionals providing immunisation services is diminishing.

The report is available here: http://fip.org/files/fip/publications/FIP_report_on_Immunisation.pdf