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NACDS' Anderson highlights National Immunization Awareness Month

As National Immunization Awareness Month kicks off this August, Steve Anderson, president and CEO of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, is emphasizing the achievements over the past decade that have culminated in the expanded role of pharmacists in providing Americans with vaccinations and meeting needs during pandemics.

Pointing out that it was not until 2009 that all 50 states allowed pharmacists to give the flu shot, Anderson said that since 2015, pharmacists are permitted in all states to give at least three vaccines. Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri, New York and West Virginia expanded pharmacists authority this year.

Anderson said NACDS’ goal is to secure authority at the state level for community pharmacists to administer all vaccinations recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

Noting that pharmacies have been recognized for their performance during times of need, including the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, Anderson highlighted a study by the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security that was funded by NACDS that calls for further strategic changes to government policy that would assure preparedness in future emergencies.

“We are seeing that pharmacists’ increased authorization to give flu shots is associated with boosted vaccination rates. An article published in Clinical Therapeutics describes a study by Avalere and NACDS researchers that found '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,’” Anderson said.

NACDS is involved in numerous partnerships to advance immunizations in pharmacies, he said, highlighting the creation of a tip sheet for obstetricians and gynecologists on how to implement an immunization referral system with healthcare stakeholders, including pharmacies. The tip sheet was the result of NACDS’ partnership last month with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Pharmacists Association.

This month, Anderson said NACDS is continuing to join forces with the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases to provide emerging vaccination information and education to pharmacists. NFID and NACDS are hosting a series of three webinars in August on the latest guidance from ACIP on current topics, Anderson said.

In addition, NACDS is supporting NFID’s new immunization awareness campaign to address human papillomavirus, the most common sexually transmitted infection.

In September, NACDS and its three CDC Immunization Grant sub-awardees will detail final demonstration project results and findings that relate to ways to effectively integrate pharmacy-based immunization into practice more broadly, Anderson said.

The demonstration projects looked at innovative healthcare collaborations designed to demonstrate increased rates of pharmacy-based immunizations. The grant also focuses on improving pandemic planning among pharmacies.

“In addition to pharmacy’s daily work to increase vaccination rates, and to foster pandemic preparedness, pharmacies also are focusing on access to vaccinations as part of their philanthropic endeavors,” Anderson said.

According to The NACDS 2017 Chain Pharmacy Community Engagement Report, access to affordable vaccines and medicines was among the top-three areas of focus for NACDS chain members in 2017. NACDS chain members reported total annual giving of $650 million, and 1.5 million total volunteer hours, Anderson said.
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