A toolkit that encourages implementation of a “life-course approach” to vaccination by the pharmacy profession was published by the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP). A life-course approach recognises that health is shaped by a series of events that occur throughout life, including vaccinations known to benefit specific age groups and vulnerable groups.
Disease prevention and health promotion is just as important during older age as it is in childhood, the authors of the toolkit write. For example, older adults are more vulnerable to more severe forms of several vaccine-preventable diseases, including influenza, Covid-19 and pneumococcal pneumonia. Other diseases, such as herpes zoster, can often be highly debilitating and painful in this group, diminishing quality of life and increasing dependence on painkillers.
The World Health Organization Immunization Agenda 2030, recommends that all member states adopt a life-course approach to immunisation and the United Nations Decade of Healthy Ageing Action Plan 2021–2030 urges the scale up of age-friendly primary health care to provide a comprehensive range of services for older people, including vaccination. Harnessing the power that pharmacists have to deliver the life-course approach to vaccination is key, the authors say.
The toolkit “Supporting life-course immunisation through pharmacy-based vaccination: enabling equity, access and sustainability” outlines three key policy areas that need to be addressed: 1) Regulations and prescribing; 2) Service remuneration models; and 3) Access to data and vaccination records. For each area, case studies from different countries are presented along with enablers and barriers.
“Health equity is only achieved when there are no differences in the quality of and access to healthcare among all groups and at all ages in a society. This policy toolkit is aimed at FIP member organisations and seeks to accelerate pharmacy-based life-course immunisation. Taking lessons from our members, the toolkit provides a universal list of enablers and barriers that organisations can use to track and monitor their progress towards this goal,” says FIP CEO Dr Catherine Duggan.
She added: “FIP’s work on vaccination is based on the conviction that improving vaccination coverage and promoting a life-course approach to vaccination are global imperatives to which pharmacists can greatly contribute. The presence of pharmacies in every community, with long opening hours, allows for the easy, convenient access of community members to a health facility. For that reason, pharmacies can help diversify and simplify vaccination pathways, especially for working adults and older adults.”