Ontario expanding the number of vaccines available at pharmacies

Friday, December 2, 2016

On December 1, Ontario Minister of Health and Long Term Care Eric Hoskins announced that pharmacists will be able to administer vaccines to protect against 13 preventable diseases. Examples include Hepatitis A and B, typhoid, rabies, Herpes Zoster (Shingles) and Human Papillomavirus (HPV).

Pharmacists across the province play an important role in helping Ontarians stay healthy through immunization,” said Dr. Eric Hoskins. “Thanks to their success providing people the flu shot, we are now inviting them to deliver the additional vaccines.

These vaccines, many of which are used for travel purposes, will be available at pharmacies across Ontario to anyone over the age of five, starting December 15.  Two Waterloo School of Pharmacy faculty members, Dr. Sherilyn Houle and Dr. Nancy Waite, were part of the working group that recommended this expansion of pharmacy services.

Sherilyn Houle“As we move into the winter travel season, being able to get your travel vaccines at the pharmacy will make pre-trip preparations easier,” says Dr. Sherilyn Houle (left). “Although some of them still require a prescription, they can be administered by the pharmacist when they are dispensed, preventing a second visit to a medical or travel clinic to receive the shots.”

Pharmacists already have experience with vaccinations, as they’ve been administering the flu shot since 2012. Dr. Houle and Dr. Waite lead the Pharmacists as Immunizers research project through the Ontario Pharmacy Research Collaboration, and their work has revealed that patients, especially young and busy professionals, respond positively to the experience of getting a vaccine from a pharmacist. Those surveyed cited the convenience and accessibility of pharmacists as major bonuses.

“Pharmacists delivered nearly 1 million flu vaccines in the 2014/2015 flu season,” Dr. Houle says. She adds:

Both the public and pharmacists have proven that vaccinations at pharmacies work. With this knowledge, we were confident recommending the expansion of vaccinations available at pharmacies.

Of the 13 vaccine-preventable diseases covered by this legislation, 9 still require a prescription. Those planning to travel are encouraged to talk to their pharmacist about how to protect themselves while travelling, and which vaccines they can have administered by the pharmacist.

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