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Poll: Ontarians amenable to pharmacist immunizations
March 5th, 2012
TORONTO – Sixty-one percent of Ontarians say they would go to their pharmacist for immunizations if they knew pharmacists had the proper training and were authorized by the government to do so, according to an Ipsos-Reid survey commissioned by the Ontario Pharmacists' Association (OPA).
OPA said that during Pharmacist Awareness Week in Canada, which runs from March 4 to 11, it's urging the province to act on recommendations made in the recently released Drummond Report, including implementing "changes to the Pharmacy Act to enable an expanded scope of pharmacy practice" and "regulations to permit pharmacists to administer routine injections and inhalations, including immunization."
"Permitting pharmacists to administer routine immunizations is an excellent opportunity to improve Ontario's low vaccination rates while increasing vaccine access," Darryl Moore, chairman of OPA, said in a statement. "Pharmacists in other provinces already have this added responsibility and have stepped up to help public health authorities to administer vaccines for annual influenza protection. We believe this is a key contribution we can also make in Ontario."
All 50 U.S. states and the provinces of British Columbia, Alberta and New Brunswick have authorized trained pharmacists to administer injections, and the result has been increased vaccination rates, OPA noted.
In Ontario, hundreds of pharmacists have already completed OPA's Injection and Immunization Certificate Program since its launch last June, in expectation of the authority to provide these new services, the association said
"By expanding the role of pharmacists and making better use of their expertise, skills and accessibility, we can help improve patient care; take pressure off family physicians, emergency departments and walk in clinics; reduce wait times and hospital stays; and increase the efficiency and effectiveness of Ontario's health care system," explained Moore. "The Ontario Pharmacists' Association is committed to working with other health care providers and the government to provide the best possible care in the most cost-effective ways."
Nearly nine in 10 Ontarians (88%) say they would go to their pharmacist for medications or advice for minor ailments such as dermatitis, psoriasis, cold sores and athlete's foot, if they knew that their pharmacist had appropriate training and was authorized by the government to do so.
"Pharmacists are already capable of assessing and treating many minor ailments. If they are authorized to do so through an expanded scope of practice, patients would receive the care they need faster, and physicians would have more time to deal with more serious medical conditions," Moore stated. "As health care needs increase and become more complex, these services will become even more critical, especially for patients who don't have a physician, such as those in rural or remote areas where the pharmacist may be the only health care provider they see."
The survey of more than 800 adults found that the biggest motivation driving Ontarians to be "more likely" to go to their pharmacist rather than a walk-in clinic or doctor's office for support on minor ailments is convenience — they wouldn't have to make an appointment (cited by 77%); wouldn't have to wait in a doctor's waiting room (76%); could visit a pharmacy on evenings and weekends (76%); and their pharmacist would communicate his or her activities to the doctor (75%).
"We urge the government to adopt the recommendations in the Drummond report and allow expanded responsibilities for Ontario's pharmacists," added Moore. "Given the increasing numbers of medications, the aging population and the growing list of pharmaceuticals, pharmacists are key to ensuring safe, cost-effective drug therapy for Ontarians."