In December of 2016, pharmacists in the province of Ontario who have received injection training were given the authority by the Minister of Health to administer additional vaccines. Until this time, pharmacists could only administer the annual flu shot. From 2012, Ontario pharmacists have administered over 1.8 million flu shots and it is the success of this program has led to this expanded scope of practice for pharmacists. Beyond the flu shot which is publically funded, the additional vaccines that pharmacists can administer will be ones that are not funded by the government, meaning there will be a charge for both the vaccine itself and its administration. Some private insurance plans may pay for these vaccines. Physicians will still need to prescribe these vaccines, while pharmacists will be able to fill and administer them. This is extremely helpful for travel vaccines where timely administration is so important. The Shingles vaccine is an example of one which is publically funded for residents aged 65-70 only. Therefore if you are in this age bracket, you would receive your vaccine from a publically funded supply in your doctor’s office. Anyone wishing this vaccine who is outside of this age range would have a prescription written by their physician and then could have it filled and administered by the pharmacist.
It is estimated that allowing pharmacists to administer these vaccines would result in an additional 4.3 million vaccines administered for pneumococcal diseases, approximately 7.6 million additional vaccinations for shingles, and 275,000 additional HPV vaccines by 2045. This represents a reduction in the number of cases of pneumococcal diseases and shingles by 17 per cent and eight per cent respectively. Increasing the immunization rates for HPV could prevent 37 per cent of the cases of genital warts, 50 per cent of the cases of cervical cancer, and 14 per cent of the cases of anal cancer in Ontario.
Before receiving any vaccines our pharmacy team is happy to guide you on which ones can be administered while receiving immunosuppressant therapy. We have established a protocol for patients on which vaccines are highly recommended before treatment initiation and can share this with you.
Carolyn Whiskin is the Pharmacy Manager for Charlton Health. Carolyn specializes in the treatment of autoimmune diseases, pharmaceutical compounding, women’s health, pain and smoking cessation. Carolyn has won provincial and national awards for her commitment to patient care and public service.