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Pharmacists worldwide can now make use of a resource from the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) to help them expand their role in immunisation. The resource, ‘Give it a shot: Expanding immunisation coverage through pharmacists’, offers practical guidance on implementing a vaccination service and sets out the roles and technical requirements for pharmacy-based vaccines-related services.

FIP has made the document freely available to pharmacists and their teams around the world. It makes the case for pharmacy-based vaccinations and presents a compilation of evidence and best practice.

“FIP strongly believes that pharmacists should be involved in vaccination strategies in a multitude of roles everywhere around the world and has given high priority to this area for a decade,” said FIP President Mr Dominique Jordan. “In recent years, the number of countries that have introduced vaccination by pharmacists or at community pharmacies has increased. However, barriers and opposition to this expansion of pharmacists’ scope of practice remain in many countries and with this resource, we want to inspire these countries to move forward and individuals to act.” 

He added: “Vaccination is one of the most successful, safe and cost-effective health interventions of all time. Improving vaccination coverage is a global imperative and pharmacists must join these efforts.”

The research objectives were to carry out a systematic review and meta-analysis of the impact of pharmacists in their various immunisation roles. All studies demonstrated an increase in vaccine coverage when pharmacists were involved in the immunisation process, regardless of role (educator, facilitator, administrator), setting or vaccine administered, compared with vaccine provision by traditional providers without pharmacist involvement. 

Pooled analysis of four randomised, controlled trials evaluating pharmacists as educators and facilitators demonstrated a statistically significant increase in immunisation rates with the addition of pharmacists (relative risk [RR] 2.96; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.02-8.59), with similar results seen in the two randomised, controlled trials evaluating pharmacists as vaccine administrators (RR 2.64; 95% CI 1.81-3.85). 

Pooled analysis of all six randomised, controlled trials demonstrated a statistically significant increase in immunisation rates with the addition of pharmacists as educators, facilitators and administrators (RR 2.74; 95% CI 1.58-4.74). Other outcomes of interest, such as safety and incidence of vaccine-preventable morbidity and mortality, were evaluated by very few studies. Four studies evaluated adverse events following immunisation and reported no change in adverse events with the addition of pharmacists. One study evaluated clinical outcomes and found a decreased risk of self-reported influenza-like illness with the addition of pharmacists as immunisation educators and/or facilitators. The research evidence strongly supports immunisation by pharmacists to improve vaccination rates. The positive effects were seen regardless of the role played (educator, facilitator and administrator), the vaccine administered, or the setting. Expanding the range of publicly-funded vaccines that can be administered by pharmacists has the potential to reduce vaccine-preventable diseases and complications through increased uptake.