Pharmacists to be allowed to administer flu vaccine

Eric McCarthy
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STRATFORD -- The executive director of the Prince Edward Island Pharmacists Association, Erin MacKenzie, estimates two-thirds of the pharmacists in this province are already certified to administer the flu vaccine. 

They’ve been upgrading their training while waiting for the P.E.I. government to respond to their lobby effort.

On Tuesday, provincial treasurer Wes Sheridan demonstrated his government has listened to the pharmacy group requests. In delivering the 2014 provincial budget Sheridan announced that legislation will be changed to allow pharmacists to deliver the vaccine. 

MacKenzie said her estimate on the number of P.E.I. pharmacists already certified is based on a survey she conducted about a month ago. “We hoped this was coming, so we wanted to be prepared when it did come,” she said.

 “Once the legislation is in place to enable it, pharmacists are ready to go. We’re quite excited about that,” the executive director added.

Because of media attention on pharmacists in the other Maritime Provinces being certified and able to administer the flu vaccine, MacKenzie said many patients have been approaching Island pharmacists over the past two years requesting the flu shot.

“You know, even though we were certified to inject, we had to tell people, ‘Sorry, we’re not allowed to yet,’” she reflected.

“Certainly, this is part of a service that pharmacists have been anxious to do as part of patient care, and making sure the recommendations we give to people: ‘(like) you’re at high risk of complications from influenza so we do strongly recommend that you get the flu shot.’ So it would be nice to be able to administer at that point rather than just recommend and hope that the patient follows up with their physician or can get an appointment to get in and get a flu shot themselves,” MacKenzie explained.

She admitted pharmacists are hoping to get approval to deliver other vaccines, like the travel vaccines for Hepatitis B and Hepatitis A. She said that would be more convenient for the patient as it would help ensure the vaccine is maintained at the proper temperature from the manufacturer right through to administration. “It makes sense on a lot of levels,” she said.

MacKenzie suggested there are still details to be worked out including how pharmacists would be reimbursed for the service, although she anticipates it would be in line with what patients pay at flu clinics.

Geographic location: P.E.I., Maritime Provinces

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