A delegation from the Malta Chamber of Pharmacists Council was invited by the European Interdisciplinary Council of Ageing (EICA) to attend a conference in San Servolo, Venice 14-16 March re Pharmacy Based Interventions to Increase Vaccine Uptake.
Community pharmacists from around 20 countries worldwide gathered in Venice to discuss “Pharmacy-based interventions to increase vaccine uptake” with other stakeholders. The presentations included an evidence-based review of the most recent immunization research. In addition there was an opportunity for faculty to exchange best practice experiences and discuss opportunities for further expansion in pharmacist scope globally.
The evidence has clearly shown that in those countries where pharmacists have vaccination administration authority; like Canada, USA, UK, Ireland and Portugal, immunization coverage rates are higher than in those countries lacking this scope. Examples of countries now planning to move forward with the educational training, legal restructuring, and advocacy efforts required to expand pharmacist scope include Estonia, Lithuania, Croatia, Spain and Malta. Greece was an example of an interesting situation where 90% of the flu shots are administered by pharmacist, while the law has yet to recognize this expanded authority. This situation arose because it is widely recognised that the pharmacist is the most accessible healthcare professional, often located in rural areas and available without an appointment. Those countries that have low immunization rates would definitely benefit from additional participation by pharmacists.
Part of the meeting focused on discussing the barriers and facilitators for implementing immunization programs in community pharmacies. Overcoming these barriers is instrumental in achieving WHO targets. Support from representative organisations, both at the National and international level, including the PGEU (Pharmaceutical Group of the European Union) and FIP (International Pharmaceutical Federation), was recognised as an important facilitator. These groups are required to help raise public awareness, to provide education and training, and to facilitate a positive legislative environment. Immunization is an important public health issue and pharmacists can have a dramatic impact if allowed to participate in administration programs.
President, Ms. Mary Ann Sant Fournier, PRO & Treasurer Ms. Claire Calleja and Member Ms. Mary Anne Ciappara with PGEU Vice President – Ms. Kristiina Sepp, FIP Professional Development and Advocacy Manager – Mr Gonçalo Sousa Pinto and Hungarian Chamber of Pharmacists – Mr Attila HORVÁTH-SZIKLAI