Should pharmacists immunize?

A number of pharmacists commented on my blog the other day about novel H1N1 influenza immunizations. Thanks to all of you who responded. This is a great way to have a dialogue with colleagues.

Some of the comments questioned whether pharmacists should immunize in the first place. Let me address a few of the points made to provide some clarity. Pharmacists are not generally "forced" to immunize. However, many pharmacists (80,000 trained in the US by year's end using APhA programs) have seen both the public health and the professional benefits offered by this service.

In APhA's discussions with the various governmental entities (CDC, Homeland Security, FDA, others) involved in preparations for H1N1 immunizations, we are seen as equals with other health professionals and also as having tremendous advantages in providing access to the 100 million plus (big number) of Americans who those groups hope will be immunized against H1N1. America needs our help — else the mass immunization program will have barriers that turn people away and people may die.

To answer the question above regarding compensation, see my note above about being seen as equals. This will not be a windfall for any health care providers, but it is an opportunity to bolster our collaborative spirit and to be fairly compensated in the process.

Let's keep the dialogue going. If you are a pharmacist doubtful of the need or wisdom to become an immunizer, have a conversation with a few folks who already provide this service before dismissing it as a possibility for yourself. As always, thanks for participating in the blog.