Improving Vaccination Rates
Because pharmacists are familiar with vaccine recommendations, they can also help improve vaccination rates among rheumatology patients, says Dr. Glasheen. Despite the higher risk of acquiring an infection, vaccination rates among people with rheumatic diseases are often low.
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“People with autoimmune inflammatory rheumatic diseases have a weakened immune system because of the medications they take and the disease itself,” says Dr. Glasheen. “As a result, they are more likely to get infections, such as pneumonia.”
Often the problem among patients is lack of awareness. If a patient’s primary physician doesn’t recommend vaccines against shingles, pneumonia or influenza, for example, the patient may not realize they should receive a vaccination.
Dr. Glasheen says pharmacists can determine when a patient may need a specific vaccination, ensure patients are up to date on immunizations and provide increased accessibility and availability to vaccinations by administering them in the pharmacy setting. Pharmacists can also remind patients to speak to their doctors before getting a live vaccine, such as the shingles vaccine, if they are using a biologic.
Linda Childers is a health writer located in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Think About It
Pharmacists can …
- Discuss the details of medication therapy with patients and answer questions about drug interactions, appropriate dosage, how to store and use medications, and more;
- Assist with obtaining prior authorization from insurance companies for prescription drugs;
- Offer injection training to patients;
- Offer patients tips to avoid or manage side effects;
- Help patients avoid non-adherence issues; and
- Improve vaccination rates.
- Miller D, Biehl A (moderators). Integrating pharmacists into the workforce: A session at the 2018 ACR/ARHP Annual Meeting. 2018 Oct 22.
- Ramey W, Lohr KM, Zeltner M, et al. Biological and targeted synthetic DMARDs’ prior authorization time is significantly reduced with pharmacy presence in the rheumatology clinic [abstract]. Arthritis Rheumatol. 2017;69 (suppl 10).
- Iuga AO, McGuire MJ. Adherence and health care costs. Risk Manag Healthc Policy. 2014 Feb 20;7:35–44.
- Krebs E, et al. Effect of opioid vs nonopioid medications on pain-related function in patients with chronic back pain or hip or knee osteoarthritis pain: The SPACE randomized clinical trial. JAMA. 2018 Mar 6;319(9):872–882.