How your pharmacist can help you manage your vaccines
Published Monday, May 3, 2021 7:00AM EDT
TORONTO -- The best way to protect yourself against illnesses like shingles, pneumonia and hepatitis A and B is to get vaccinated.
Fortunately, thanks to your local pharmacy, the process has never been easier.
“We’re convenient, we’re accessible, we’re available after business hours,” said John Papastergiou, a pharmacist at Shoppers Drug Mart in Toronto.
"There are lots of adult vaccinations that many patients miss. Now, pharmacists are getting really good at asking, 'have you had your shingles vaccine?' or 'are you planning to travel soon? Have you had your pneumococcal vaccine?"
The injection-certified pharmacists at Shoppers Drug Mart can provide a convenient, one-stop vaccination experience today to ensure your immunizations are up-to-date.
(Editor’s note: Applicable vaccines and costs vary by province. A prescription may be required. Professional fees may apply.)
“I think patients — especially elderly patients — would benefit from having a conversation with their pharmacist around vaccines for things like shingles and the pneumococcal vaccine,” Papastergiou said. “These are adult vaccinations that many patients miss.”
Your pharmacist may ask you if you’re up to date on all your inoculations, but don’t be afraid to inquire on your own.
“We’re able to say to patients, ‘why don’t we sit down and think about your options?’” Papastergiou said. “We’re now able to give a whole host of these vaccines. We can do them right in the pharmacy and we can get that documentation for the patient, too.”
As with most other health-care topics, your pharmacist is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to vaccines.
They can tell you about efficacy rates, at what age you should be receiving certain vaccines and more. And if you consistently receive your inoculations from the same pharmacy, they can keep a detailed record of what you have received and when. This will allow your pharmacist to alert you when a booster shot is necessary.
“As vaccines become more prominent in people’s understanding of how to stay healthy, your pharmacist is there to help you get what you need,” said Zubin Austin, academic director at Centre for Practice Excellence at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy in Toronto.
Depending on where you live, your pharmacist may also be able to provide information about access to the COVID-19 vaccines, when you’ll be able to book an appointment and the best way to adhere to the multi-dose vaccine regimens.
“We’re about to embark on the largest mass vaccination campaign in Canadian history… and I think the pharmacist is going to be key,” Papastergiou said.
Time and money is saved and strain on the health-care system is avoided when pharmacists are allowed to administer vaccines, Austin said.
“I suspect we’re going to actually see an expansion in the community pharmacy’s role in distributing all sorts of vaccines,” Austin said. “That’s really important because one of the biggest barriers to people getting vaccinated is time and access.”