Role of Pharmacists in Vaccination in Low-and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs)
Presenter: Tatenda Yemeke
Co-authors: Stephen McMillan, Ian Bates, Lina Bader, Victoria Rutter, Helena Rosado, Sachiko Ozawa
Poster file: [download]
Global childhood immunization coverage has stalled at around 86% in recent years, resulting in nearly 1.5 million deaths annually from vaccine-preventable diseases. Under-vaccination of populations threatens the attainment of global vaccination goals. Current estimates indicate a worldwide shortage of 7.2 million healthcare workers in low-and middle income countries (LMICs), exacerbating the difficulty of vaccinating every child. Pharmacists have demonstrated their value in increasing awareness and access to vaccines, as well as improving vaccination coverage in high-income countries. However, evidence of their role in LMICs remains limited. This study synthesizes evidence about the current roles pharmacists play in vaccination across LMICs. We conducted a survey targeting individuals in the fields of pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences to assess current practice, as well as performed a systematic review of published literature. The survey assessed pharmacists’ involvement in various vaccination service domains and elicited their perceptions on their role and perceived barriers. We received 255 responses representing 55 LMICs. Our systematic review identified 21 studies describing pharmacist involvement in vaccination in LMICs. Currently, the majority of pharmacists in LMICs engage in patient education, with few pharmacists administering vaccines or receiving immunization training. Greater immunization training among pharmacists could facilitate their increased involvement in vaccination, from increasing vaccination referrals, educating patients about vaccines, ordering and storing vaccines, to administering vaccines. Greater pharmacist involvement in vaccination in LMICs could build upon pharmacists’ accessibility and relationships in the community to improve vaccination outcomes.