Pharmacy Immunization Vaccination
Russell Murrow, General Manager, Pharmacy Solutions TDS
Russell Murrow, General Manager, Pharmacy Solutions TDS

Communities rely on independent pharmacies to fulfill a variety of healthcare needs. From answering questions about medications to diabetes management care, pharmacists offer crucial services to their patients. Pharmacists play an important role in improving patient outcomes, increasing medication adherence, and reducing overall healthcare costs for patients and payers. By offering an immunization program, independent pharmacies can expand their business, promote the health and well-being of their patients, and have a positive impact on the overall healthcare landscape.

Today, the services provided by community pharmacies are more vital than ever. The physician shortage in America is growing as the population ages and physicians retire. Communities across the country desperately need access to reliable care, especially areas that are already underserved. By administering immunizations and educating patients, independent pharmacists can greatly benefit their communities.


Immunization Education and Training

Access CDC resources on vaccine programs

  • Apply for a Medicare Part B mass immunizer number if you plan to administer vaccines for Medicare Part B patients.
  • Ensure that your pharmacy management system offers automated reporting capabilities to registries for immunizations.
  • Rely on your pharmacy management system for electronic documentation to avoid wasting time on manual documentation for your state.

Immunizations are important for the health of both children and adults. Vaccinations enable children to develop immunity to certain diseases without having to first be sick, and protect children from preventable diseases. Adults, especially the elderly, can also avoid serious illnesses by receiving immunizations at the proper time. For those who are too young or too sick to be vaccinated, increased community immunization rates can help protect their health through herd immunity.

Unfortunately, vaccines are severely underutilized in America. Vaccine utilization is worse among adults and high-risk patients, according to The American Journal of Managed Care. Independent pharmacies can help combat this issue by providing vaccine education and convenient immunization programs for their community.

The benefit of vaccines can also be seen in the impact of immunizations on healthcare costs. Vaccines are necessary to prevent diseases in patients of all ages. Lower rates of disease occurrence result in fewer visits to the doctor, fewer medical tests and treatment, and less time spent in the hospital. When it comes to the sustainability of healthcare costs, immunization programs are an integral piece of the puzzle.

The Benefit to Independent Pharmacies

It’s not only patients and payers that benefit from immunizations. Independent pharmacies can grow their revenue by expanding into a new line of service. Immunizations offer a fairly consistent stream of revenue, as children and adults require a variety of vaccinations each year. An immunization program helps build trust with the local community, inspiring loyal business and repeat customers.

Immunizations can also increase foot traffic for a community pharmacy. By educating the community on vaccines and immunizations, pharmacies can encourage new patients to visit the pharmacy. When patients trust a pharmacist to administer vaccines, they are likely to trust them to fill prescriptions as well. Independent pharmacies that start an immunization program may find their prescription and over-the-counter sales increase.

What’s Needed to Start?

Despite the many benefits of an immunization program, for both the pharmacy and community, pharmacies sometimes balk at the prep work. You cannot start an immunization program overnight. There is a considerable amount of planning involved in properly establishing an immunization program. However, the benefits well justify the additional work.

Use these tips to get started:

  • Understand the regulations in your state for immunizations. Check with your state pharmacy board.
  • Complete the required immunization training from your state pharmacy association.
  • Receive CPR training and a certificate, if required by your state pharmacy board.
  • Request an immunization license from your state. This process varies by state, so research the full requirements before applying.
  • Apply for a Medicare Part B mass immunizer number if you plan to administer vaccines for Medicare Part B patients.
  • Ensure that your pharmacy management system offers automated reporting capabilities to registries for immunizations.
  • Rely on your pharmacy management system for electronic documentation to avoid wasting time on manual documentation for your state.

What Will This Mean for the COVID-19 Vaccine?

COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of independent pharmacies. With the release of the COVID-19 vaccines, the role of the pharmacist will once again be under a spotlight. According to the Department of Health & Human Services, the federal government is partnering with both independent and chain pharmacies to help deploy the vaccines. Steps are being taken to make the vaccines more accessible and affordable for patients across the country, and the existing infrastructure of independent pharmacies will be essential.

Pharmacies are already hiring new employees, adjusting their workflow, and increasing their capabilities to meet the upcoming demand. Starting an immunization program before the complete rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines can help independent pharmacies stay ahead of the curve. Now is the time for pharmacies to make necessary changes and preparations to administer the COVID-19 vaccines in order to properly serve their communities in the future. CT

Russell Murrow, general manager of pharmacy solutions at TDS, leads the pharmacy management solutions suite, including immunization programs and capabilities within Rx30 and Computer-Rx pharmacy software. TDS is committed to providing the innovative tools independent pharmacies need for success. Learn more at www.tdsclinical.com.

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