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Vaccine push hits retail

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With pharmacists across the country now able to administer vaccinations, the Department of Health and Human Services’ plan came at just the right time.

Last month, HHS announced that it would invest $750 million in prevention and public health, through the Prevention and Public Health Fund created by the healthcare-reform law. More than half of that was set aside for community prevention and clinical prevention, including increasing the availability and use of immunizations. Days later, HHS announced a new National Vaccine Plan that specifically acknowledged the role pharmacies can play in increasing use of vaccines as “community immunization sites.” Most recently, Walgreens, Rite Aid and Supervalu stepped up and announced that they had ensured their stores had the shingles vaccine in stock in response to reports of supply problems.

“There appears to be a growing trend for administration of adult vaccines at pharmacies and retail clinics,” IMS Health senior principal Heather von Allmen told Drug Store News. “The largest shifts toward retail pharmacy administration are for flu vaccine and the adult shingles vaccine. The adult pneumococcal vaccine, while still primarily administered in a nonpharmacy setting, is also seeing an increase in administration in the pharmacy setting.”

One advantage pharmacies have over physicians’ offices is the ability to easily meet storage requirements. For example, the adult shingles vaccine has to be frozen, and physicians’ offices don’t always have the ability to stock it. However, a pharmacy is already set up to store it, von Allmen said.

“I think you will see pharmacies continue to promote the administration of adult vaccines in the pharmacy or retail clinic setting,” von Allmen said. “This provides a revenue growth opportunity for pharmacies and provides patients with the convenience of receipt of the vaccine.”

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