MONDAY, June 18, 2018 (HealthDay News) — Pharmacists can help increase adult vaccination rates by offering vaccination at lower cost and greater convenience, according to a study published by the Pacific Research Institute.

In a study entitled “Promoting Access and Lowering Costs in Health Care: The Case of Empowering Pharmacists to Increase Adult Vaccination Rates,” Wayne Winegarden, Ph.D., from the Pacific Research Institute in San Francisco, discusses the need to increase vaccine rates, which are currently extremely low.

Winegarden notes that every year, thousands are hospitalized and die from vaccine-preventable diseases, including influenza, pneumococcal pneumonia, chronic hepatitis B, and human papillomavirus-associated cancers. Improving the vaccination rate necessitates identifying barriers to vaccination, such as information barriers and vaccine costs, including the cost of stocking vaccines. Educational programs to increase awareness, as well as increased access at lower costs are recommended. Pharmacies could address the cost barriers since they can be more effective, lower-cost providers of vaccinations; the average direct costs paid per adult vaccination are lower in pharmacies versus physician offices or other medical settings. Pharmacies can also offer greater convenience, including expanded hours of operation, more flexible scheduling, and multiple locations; they are also well placed to address racial and geographic disparities. Policy reforms to eliminate political barriers restricting pharmacies’ ability to provide vaccines should be implemented.

“Adult vaccines can improve people’s health, but our nation’s vaccine rates are unacceptably low,” Winegarden said in a statement. “Making vaccines more accessible and less expensive will help reverse this trend.”

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