Flu vaccine season is underway, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is once again urging all Americans 6 months and older to get their flu shot this year.1
On September 29, CDC Director of National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, Nancy Messonnier, MD, issued a Dear Pharmacist Letter
, which recognized the importance of pharmacists in vaccinating the population.2
In addition to licensed pharmacists, student pharmacists can play an important role in helping more Americans get the vaccine by participating in immunization campaigns throughout their communities.
The American Pharmacists Association-Academy of Student Pharmacists (APhA-ASP) launched Operation Immunization in 1997. Through this program, student pharmacists provide immunization education and vaccination to their communities. As of the 2014-2015 campaign, 86 APhA-ASP chapters across the country were participating in Operation Immunization.3
One such chapter is that of the University of Mississippi. There, pharmacy students are trained to give immunizations the first year of school, so that they are able to provide vaccinations each year to fellow students, faculty, and community residents. The Ole Miss APhA-ASP chapter was recently featured in the school’s newspaper, The DM Online
, where the immunization campaign was explained.4
By participating in the campaign, student pharmacists are able to practice a skill that they will then be able to use for years to come as a practicing pharmacist. Pharmacy student Jennifer Miller explains, “A lot of us work in community settings as well as where people come to get flu shots and other vaccines. It just makes it known to the community that pharmacists can also be that resource and that they do not have to go to the doctor to get their shots.”
The American Pharmacists Association offers an immunization training program called Pharmacist-Based Immunization Delivery.5
This interactive program teaches the necessary skills required to be a source of vaccine information and administration to the community. Pharmacists learn immunology, practice implementation, and regulatory issues. This program, accredited for pharmacy continuing education (CE), provides five modules:
1. Pharmacists, Vaccines, and Public Health
2. Overview of Immunology and Vaccine Development
3. Vaccine-Preventable Diseases
4. Patient Care Considerations for Immunizing Pharmacists
5. Operating a Pharmacist-Based Immunization Program
Participants also complete a live, active training session, in which injection-technique is practiced. A total of 20 CE hours are earned after completion of the program and the pharmacist can then deliver any vaccines approved for pharmacist administration.