Rite Aid Corp. and a CVS/pharmacy pharmacist and a CVS pharmacy technician are among the winners of the American Pharmacists Association’s 2012 APhA Immunization Champion Awards.

American Pharmacists Association, APhA, APhA Immunization Champion Awards, Rite Aid, immunization program, CVS/pharmacy, immunization, pharmacist, pharmacy technician, APhA Annual Meeting and Exposition, Paras Chokshi, CVS pharmacist, CVS pharmacy technician, Michelina Gleason, Richard Monks

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APhA lauds Rite Aid immunization effort

February 27th, 2012

WASHINGTON – Rite Aid Corp. and a CVS/pharmacy pharmacist and a CVS pharmacy technician are among the winners of the American Pharmacists Association’s 2012 APhA Immunization Champion Awards.

The awards will be presented at the APhA Annual Meeting and Exposition in New Orleans, March 9 through March 12.

Rite Aid, the winner in the association’s corporate/institution category, was cited for its ability to rapidly expand its immunization services over the past few years. Since the end of 2007 the chain has trained more than 11,500 pharmacists in 31 states and the District of Columbia as immunizers.

“Recognizing the importance of expanding the immunization program, Rite Aid made a commitment through a two-year plan to increase the number of immunizers to full coverage in all stores,” an APhA spokeswoman says. “Rite Aid has an extensive program that enables their pharmacists to be educators, facilitators and immunizers.”

Since it began expanding its immunization services Rite Aid has increased the amount of immunizations provided by pharmacists by a factor of 20, most significantly for influenza, herpes zoster, pneumococcal and pertussis, APhA says.

The association goes on to explain that Rite Aid’s immunization program has been a companywide effort that goes well beyond just its pharmacies.

“These efforts were supported by departments including communications, which publicized immunization capabilities through external media and provided best immunization practices for employees in regular and special print newsletter editions; government affairs, which has been an instrumental advocate for increasing the scope of pharmacist-based immunizations; managed care and third-party departments, which worked extensively to remove coverage barriers; marketing, which designed campaigns to reach patients through a variety of media and channels; and pharmacy purchasing, which helped facilitate access to vaccines at all Rite Aid locations,” the spokeswoman says.

Meanwhile, Paras Chokshi, a CVS pharmacist from Sugarland, Texas, was one of three honorable mention winners in the individual practitioner ­category.

APhA says Chokshi has impacted his community and pharmacy by educating his staff on immunization requirements, procedures, best practices and targets, ensuring that they were ready for the immunization season.

In addition, Chokshi implemented several practices at his store to drive flu vaccinations.

“He and his staff tagged all prescription bags, made a point to counsel every patient about why it was important to be immunized and discussed insurance coverage with patients,” the APhA spokeswoman says. “He also visited local businesses, schools and churches and obtained flu vaccine contracts. His store has had success with a Tamiflu outreach program, in which they communicated with patients who received antiviral medications the year before to remind them of the availability of the influenza vaccine.”

CVS pharmacy technician Michelina Gleason of Sebastian, Fla., was cited as the APhA Pharmacy Team Member of the year.

She is described by APhA as a vocal proponent of pharmacist-administered vaccinations, and has committed herself to reaching those in her community with a high-risk of complications if they contract influenza.