Friday, 28 September 2012 11:28
Service to be extended to ALL at-risk Groups
The Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) has welcomed the decision by the HSE to extend the flu vaccination service available through pharmacies. From next week, community pharmacists will be eligible to vaccinate all at-risk patients, in addition to patients aged 65 years and older.
Rory O'Donnell, President of the Irish Pharmacy Union, said, "We welcome the move to extend the service to all at-risk patients. The aim of this extension is to increase the vaccine uptake in these high risk groups. Pharmacists are the most accessible part of the health service, and are therefore ideally-placed to provide this service.
"While the flu virus can infect anyone, high-risk patients can develop severe symptoms leading to hospitalisation and, in extreme cases even death. It is estimated that between 300 and 400 people in Ireland die from influenza and its complications every year.1"
Pharmacists can also provide the service to any patient over the age of 18 who is not in the at-risk category. Research in the United States found that the use of pharmacists in a flu vaccination programme helped increase the overall vaccination rate, benefiting other healthcare providers, and most of all, patients and the community.2
Mr O'Donnell said, "Pharmacists are looking forward to providing this service to patients. We encourage patients to visit their local pharmacist to avail of the service as prevention is key."
Nearly 1,400 pharmacists were trained in delivery of the flu vaccine in 2011.
1. Page 52, Pharmacy Ireland 2020 Interim Report
2. Topics in Patient Care Supplement, Pharmacy Today, July 2007.
The at-risk patients are:
- persons aged 65 years and older;
- persons with a chronic illness requiring regular follow up, e.g. chronic respiratory disease including cystic fibrosis, moderate or severe asthma, chronic heart disease, chronic renal disease, diabetes mellitus, haemoglobinopathies, chronic liver disease, chronic neurological disease including multiple sclerosis, hereditary and degenerative disorders of the central nervous system, etc.;
- those who are immunosuppressed due to disease or treatment including those with missing or non-functioning spleens;
- those with morbid obesity, i.e. body mass index over 40;
- all pregnant women (vaccine can be given at any stage of pregnancy);
- healthcare workers;
- residents of nursing homes and other long-stay institutions;
- carers; and
- people with regular contact with pigs, poultry or water fowl.