Study: Patients more likely to get the flu shot when it's available at retail

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Study: Patients more likely to get the flu shot when it's available at retail

By Michael Johnsen - 08/14/2017

ARLINGTON, Va. — Making influenza immunizations available through retail pharmacy increases the odds that a patient will get the flu shot, according to an article published in Clinical Therapeutics last week.

The research cited by Clinical Therapeutics was conducted by Avalere and the National Association of Chain Drug Stores.

“Overall, as states moved to allow pharmacists to administer influenza immunizations, the odds that an adult resident received an influenza immunization rose, with the effect increasing over time,” wrote Laura Miller, NACDS senior economist, who conducted the study along with Avalere Health's Edward Drozd and Michael Johnsrud. “These findings suggest that pharmacies and other nontraditional settings may offer accessible venues for patients when implementing other public health initiatives.”

The study found that state-level policy changes that allow for pharmacists to administer influenza immunizations were associated with a nearly 8% increase in seasonal influenza immunization rates within six years after these policy changes over the years 2003 to 2013. Over this period, overall seasonal influenza immunization rates rose 25% among those surveyed (from 32% to 40% immunized).

Research has shown that lack of convenient access has been identified as a major barrier affecting whether an individual will receive the immunization.

"Avalere and NACDS’ research also found that flu immunization rates increased by age," Johnsrud wrote in an Avalere blog. "For example, those in the 30-34 age bracket had a 25% immunization rate versus 41% for the 55-59 age bracket. The study also noted that 22% of those who reported access to care issues due to cost received flu immunizations compared to 37% for those who reported no such issues."

“Today, many people find it surprising that it was not until 2009 that pharmacists were allowed to administer the flu shot in all 50 states,” commented Steven Anderson, president and CEO NACDS. “Now, since 2015, pharmacists have been allowed to administer at least three adult vaccines in all 50 states. That is tremendous progress, and research and anecdotal evidence supports the public-health merits of improving patients’ access to these highly educated health professionals.”