Pharmacy-Based Vaccinations for Adolescents: A Review of Barriers, Laws and Policies in Pennsylvania

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DA Harris, Jefferson College of Population Health, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA.


Adolescent vaccination coverage is suboptimal in Pennsylvania. In light of the recent outbreaks of vaccine-preventable childhood illnesses in and around Pennsylvania, it is important that vaccine uptake in adolescents increases. One strategy that has been proposed is to increase the number of health care professionals who can administer vaccines. Currently, Pennsylvania legislators are making efforts to amend the Pharmacy Practice Act to allow immunization-certified pharmacists to administer vaccines to children aged 7 years and above. The purpose of this project was to identify pharmacy opportunities and challenges related to participation in the provision of adolescent vaccinations. A review of legal and policy documents related to the subject matter was conducted. Ten key informants participated in qualitative interviews that assessed their knowledge, attitudes, and practices. Findings revealed that pharmacy opportunities were related to improved patient convenience and practitioner collaboration. On the other hand, pharmacy challenges included immunization documentation and communication between health care providers, patient safety related to adverse events, and the current retail work environment. Findings further highlighted other issues such as parental and adolescent consent, pharmacist choice, and familiarity with handling adolescent patients and their parents. Although pharmacists are capable of playing a crucial role in improving adolescent immunization coverage in Pennsylvania, legislators and policy makers must assess the willingness of pharmacists to partake in this effort. Several systemic changes are needed to ensure the feasibility of this initiative.

Presentation: 29 minutes