New report finds pharmacists administered more vaccinations than physicians
Vivian H. Lam is a final-year PharmD candidate at Shenandoah University Bernard J. Dunn School of Pharmacy.
A new report from the Global Healthy Living Foundation and the consultant company IQVIA found that pharmacists in the United States administered more recommended routine vaccinations compared with physicians from 2020 to 2021.
The majority of adult COVID-19 and shingles vaccinations took place at pharmacies, the report found, and approximately 60% of vaccinations during influenza season also took place at pharmacies. The data revealed a 30–40% increase in claims for influenza vaccines at pharmacies between 2018 and 2019 as well as in 2020.
Pneumococcal vaccinations increased at pharmacies as well, and roughly 13–20% of adult HPV vaccines were administered at a pharmacy by the end of 2021, compared with 5–8% in 2018.
The bulk of pediatric COVID-19 vaccines were administered at pharmacies, and influenza vaccinations administered in 2020 and 2021 similarly increased (12–13% during the influenza season) compared with 2018 and 2019 (7–10%).
The report found that there were 15.1% more pharmacy locations within low-income communities than physician offices, meaning that lower-income families had more access to pharmacists than to physicians.
The Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP Act) allows for pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to administer certain vaccines without a prescriber order. These include the COVID-19 vaccines for ages 3 or older, the influenza vaccine for ages 18 and older, and the ACIP-recommended pediatric vaccines for ages 3 to 18 years.
Since the enactment of the PREP Act, there has been an increased number of routine vaccinations provided by pharmacists, surpassing the number of vaccines given by physicians, as demonstrated by these findings.
The PREP Act has also played an important role in increasing access to essential health care, specifically immunization delivery. The ability of pharmacists to vaccinate down to the age of 3 years helped fulfill the increasing demand for vaccinations that followed the rise of COVID-19 and helped close the health equity gap for low-income families and rural communities.
The PREP Act is scheduled to end on October 24, 2024. With pharmacists being the most accessible health care professional in the country, health care access and health equity are on the line if the PREP Act is not codified by all states.