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With preventable diseases like the flu becoming an ever-increasing burden on healthcare systems around the world, training pharmacists to administer vaccines could be part of the solution.
In Canada, Teva’s immunization training program for pharmacists is delivered by Pear Healthcare Solutions (PHS), a Toronto-based agency providing education, training and technology solutions for pharmacy and other healthcare clients. It aims to increase the accessibility and awareness of vaccinations among the general public. Pharmacists have access to a range of live training workshops and e-learning programs that teach them how to administer injections under the skin and into a muscle.
“In Canada, administering injections in pharmacies is a relatively new concept,” says Rose Patodia, pharmacist and editorial director at PHS, who is also a practicing pharmacist. “Learning how to give injections is a new skill, so pharmacists need appropriate training.”
The partnership with PHS is part of Teva Canada’s offering of continuing education for pharmacists, stemming from the company’s global commitment to fighting antimicrobial resistance (AMR). This is when bacteria and viruses become resistant to antibiotics and antivirals, making treatments less effective and infections more likely to spread to other people (1).
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the increase in AMR has been driven by the overuse and misuse of antibiotics (2). The WHO also says vaccines are important in the fight against AMR because they are an effective way of stopping people becoming infected in the first place, thereby preventing the need for antibiotics (3). Teva is proud to be among members of the global life sciences industry that have joined the AMR Industry Alliance, committed to finding solutions to this issue together.
“Allowing pharmacists to administer vaccines helps to prevent infectious diseases like influenza (the flu), and serious consequences like pneumonia that can result from it,” explains Patodia. “A large number of pharmacists in Canada have now been trained to deliver vaccinations, and this has helped to increase the overall rate of people getting the flu shot. In most provinces it’s now possible to go to your local pharmacy and get the flu shot and, in some cases, other vaccines as well.”
Previously, Canadians would need to go to a doctor or public health nurse to get a shot. But for those in remote areas they can be difficult to access, especially because opening hours are limited. Many pharmacists are open for extended hours, or even 24 hours a day, meaning people can go whenever it is convenient for them.
As well as getting a vaccination for flu and shingles – a painful rash that can lead to long-term complications – it’s also possible to receive vaccines for travel-related illnesses from pharmacist. The PHS Comprehensive Travel Health Educator Program provides pharmacists with training on basics in travel health, pre-travel assessment, vaccinology for infectious diseases, and travel clinic establishment.
Pharmacy technicians and assistants, meanwhile, can opt for Teva Canada’s online program that teaches how vaccines work, safe injection administration practices, documentation, and marketing and communications.
So far, pharmacists in Canada have been keen to participate in the training program.“There is lots of information out there about the importance of vaccinations, and this is giving pharmacists the inspiration to get involved,” says Patodia. “There are some pharmacists in Canada who have become significant vaccine providers in their communities. It is really important for pharmacists to embrace the initiative because even just vaccinating one person can help to reduce the spread of disease.”
Thanks to the training program, pharmacists in Canada are helping to spread the message about the importance of vaccinations. Patodia says they are advertising their new flu shot services to the local community, which is encouraging more people to come on board.
“It’s still a push to persuade people to get vaccinated every year, but because many vaccines are now accessible via the neighbourhood pharmacist, they are more likely to,” says Patodia. “We’ve found that most people like getting vaccines from their pharmacist and feel at ease in this environment. This works well for people who are nervous about needles.”
With annual flu epidemics estimated to cause between three and five million cases of severe illness and about 290,000 to 650,000 deaths worldwide, the program is playing an important role in reducing the burden of disease.
***Learn more about how Teva is contributing to healthy communities through safe and accessible medicines, partnerships, health initiatives and innovative research in our latest Social Impact Report.
1 http://www.who.int/antimicrobial-resistance/en/ 2 http://www.who.int/features/qa/vaccination-antibiotic-resistance/en/ 3 http://www.who.int/features/qa/vaccination-antibiotic-resistance/en/