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ALEXANDRIA, Va. A new report from the Institute of Medicine applauded pharmacy's role in the public health response to the 2009 H1N1 flu vaccine campaign.
“The 2009 H1N1 Influenza Vaccination Campaign: Summary of a Workshop Series” detailed pharmacy’s distribution system and accessibility to the general public during the campaign, as well as pharmacy's role in vaccine preparation, distribution and administration.
“Many arguments can be given for the use of retail pharmacies in administering vaccine, but the most compelling is availability; large numbers of immunizers are ready and available to administer vaccine,” the report noted. “Pharmacies know their markets; they are in the community and have established relationships with local, state and national public health … [and] are open during evening, weekend and holiday hours, when public health clinics and doctors’ offices may be closed.”
Despite the commendation, the report also found that pharmacies were at a disadvatange when it came to vaccinations for children and teenagers, primarily because of state-mandated age restrictions on pharmacy's scope of practice.
Responding to the report, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores' president and CEO Steve Anderson said that the report “validates NACDS’ position that pharmacies are accessible, knowledgeable and experienced healthcare providers that can assist patients with flu vaccinations, as well as broader issues, such as helping patients understand and take their medications correctly,” adding that the organization looks “forward to utilizing this IOM report to further advance pharmacy’s role in public policy, public health and vaccination efforts.”