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The Pharmacist’s Role On Immunization: What To Look For And Look Out For

The Pharmacist’s Role on Immunization: What to Look For and Look Out For

Three times a year, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) meets to review the latest findings on the immunization front, adjusting preferred dosing schedules and making recommendations in terms of best clinical practices. In that regard, the pharmacist’s role on immunization is critical in following the latest trends, accessing the appropriate vaccination resources, and advising their patients accordingly.

Of course, it helps when both parties are on the same page.

At Benzer, we’re pleased to shed some light on the subject.

A snapshot on the status of influenza

According to the CDC, from October 1, 2018 through March 30, 2019, there were between 33.2 million to 38.1 million cases of influenza reported in the U.S., representing highs of 549,000 hospitalizations and 50,900 deaths, respectively. Although influenza vaccine effectiveness varies from season-to-season, one thing that remains consistent is the greater margin for faster recovery in those who have been vaccinated.

Under the glare of summer sky, it’s likely not the first thing to come to mind. Yet, the months seem to pass by quickly once football season rolls around, and with it, should come the awareness to get the flu vaccine as soon as it becomes widely available, at least by October. Keep in mind, it does take two weeks for the influenza vaccine to ramp up defenses inside the body. The CDC also recommends the use of inactivated influenza vaccine (IIV) and live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) among children 24 months and older.

Age-range extended for HPV vaccines

In October 2018, the FDA expanded guidelines for human papillomavirus vaccination to include both men and women aged 27 to 45. In large part, that’s because the new HPV vaccine wasn’t around when people in that group were teenagers, so they stand to benefit the most. One clinician cited the case of 35- or 40-year-old woman re-entering the dating world as a preventative measure, but it’s no longer a gender-specific concern.

Pamela Rockwell, an Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (AAFP) liaison to the ACIP, reports that it’s recommended as a “catch-up” measure for older adults, as well as for patients around the ages of 11-12, even for those as young as nine-years-old.

Vaccine-preventable diseases on the rise

From the beginning of 2019 through April, more than 700 cases of measles were diagnosed across 22 different states—the largest number since the disease was classified as eliminated just 19 years ago. While most of the outbreaks were traced to unvaccinated travelers returning from Israel, the Ukraine, and the Philippines, the cause for alarm has already sounded loud and clear.

First and foremost, pharmacists themselves have a duty to get up-to-date with the adult MMR vaccine and pass it on to their patients. Measles, Mumps, and Rubella can be highly contagious and infectious, with sometimes severe symptoms and complications, which can lead to pneumonia, encephalitis, and even death.

“Measles is a highly contagious, vaccine-preventable viral disease that spreads easily through the air and touching infected surfaces and contact with one’s eyes, nose or mouth,” Rockwell said. “[The] Measles virus can live up to two hours in an airspace where an infected person coughed or sneezed, [putting] 90% of non-immune persons who walk into the room [at risk] for infection.”

That’s why it’s so important to take action before something minor becomes something more in terms of an outbreak.

Spreading the word to anti-vaccination parents

Healthcare professionals of every stripe have decried and debunked the anti-vaccination movement, but its growth persists, primarily due to online fear-mongering. And yet, there are compulsory childhood vaccination laws on the books in all fifty states to stop the spread of preventable diseases.

Now, those too, may fall victim to an outbreak of irrationality.

While vaccinations come with reasons for concern about possible links to autism, there’s little evidence or cause for alarm. Still, in some areas, nearly one out of five children have not received their recommended vaccines. That’s an untenable circumstance from any logical perspective.

At Benzer, we will always “opt-in” to help you get better.

The only thing you need to look for is our name on the door.

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