We have featured blogs over the last two years on the importance of vaccination, especially for patients who have autoimmune conditions and have a greater risk of infection than the general public. During COVID-19 many family physician offices have been doing virtual visits over the phone/computer and have not had the capacity to manage vaccines. Public Health departments across the province have been focusing efforts on COVID-19 management and testing, and some have reduced their distribution of publicly funded vaccines to physician offices.
We cannot forget however the importance of protecting against many of the known viruses and bacteria that have can also have serious health consequences. Pneumonia, Shingles and Influenza are only part of a number of adult vaccines that must be updated. Maintaining childhood vaccines is also of significant importance as we do not want the return of illnesses that have previously been eradicated. In England they are very conscious of this and have begun curbside vaccinations, where patients are screened over the phone upon arrival outside the clinic, the nurse then vaccinates through the car window and then returns into the office to complete the documentation. The person waits in their car post shot to ensure no reaction and then calls back into the office for clearance to drive home.
At Charlton Health we have maintained our vaccination clinic to ensure patients receive needed vaccines prior to starting advanced therapies and maintain their vaccination schedule. By booking patients 15 minutes apart and using personal protective equipment this clinic is running well. Remember that community pharmacists also have the ability to administer vaccines but some may be limited in their capacity to do this currently.
As restrictions ease, vaccination catch-up will be a necessary priority and one not to be forgotten. If a second or third dose in a vaccination series has been delayed, you do not need to repeat the vaccination series; just have the next dose as soon as the service becomes available.
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.