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Paying pharmacists for consultations about vaccines would actually save a lot of money

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Posted April 26, 2019

Pharmacists are underused resources in the healthcare system. Despite going through extensive training they are commonly working pretty much as cashiers, while they have enough knowledge to provide consultations. For example, now scientists from the University of Waterloo found that a small fee of $15 could significantly boost vaccine rates, prevent approximately 2,400 influenza cases in Ontario, Canada, alone.

Flu vaccines are usually highly effective – even if their administration cost more, reducing the number of those infected would result in tremendous savings. Image credit: Cpl. Jackeline Perez Rivera via Wikimedia

Pharmacists do know a lot about diseases and vaccines. They do not hesitate to provide some information to the patients if they are asking. But what if we encouraged pharmacists to share some information about vaccines and how helpful they are? This is especially true for people who are 65 or older, because out of 2400 influenza cases per year three would result in death. Paying pharmacists $15 per consultation would increase the rates of vaccines, preventing 2400 influenza cases per year, saving those three lives and reducing healthcare system expenses on treating people from this preventable disease.

Seniors with flu often end up in hospitals, where they have to receive a lot of attention. This results in high administration and hospitalization costs, which in most countries lay on public healthcare systems. This means that paying $15 per consultation would actually be a great financial decision, saving tax payers thousands of dollars per year. Also, people would know more about vaccines and could spread the word, telling their stories about how effective it was. Scientists say that prevention is always better than treatment and in this case it can also reduce costs and suffering better than hospitalization would.

People are always encouraged to get vaccinated, but these efforts are often fruitless. People are busy and often think that they will be the ones who will not catch flu this season. Gokul Raj Pullagura, lead author of the study, said: “Considering our current method of encouraging people to get the flu shot is resulting in low vaccination rates, using pharmacists to their full potential could be a cost-effective way of achieving our goals”. And have in mind that pharmacists are highly qualified and go through tremendous training just to become something similar to cashiers – their skills and knowledge are still underused.

In Ontario, pharmacists have been able to give influenza vaccinations since 2012. This increased the rates of vaccinated and made it easier for people to get vaccines, because pharmacy is always nearby. However, pharmacists could be engaged even more, because they are part of the community. By encouraging people to get vaccinated and providing them with information they could make a big impact.

 

Source: University of Waterloo

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