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Pharmacists Play Key Role in Achieving Higher Immunization Rates in Canada

(en français)

March 16, 2015 (Ottawa): Canadian pharmacists are highly trusted to provide a range of health care services and advice.  As the most accessible health care professionals in Canada, dispensing and providing advice on 600 million prescriptions a year, no other provider is better positioned to assist governments in achieving enhanced public awareness and utilization of vaccines.  In fact, according to a recent national survey conducted for the Canadian Pharmacists Association (CPhA) to mark Pharmacist Awareness Month, 88% of Canadians trust pharmacists to provide advice on vaccinations and 79% of Canadians said they would consider going to their pharmacist for a flu shot or other vaccines.

Within the changing Canadian health landscape, pharmacists are increasingly providing immunization services and evidence-based advice.  94% of Canadians trust pharmacists to provide advice on the management of common ailments like the flu. The ability of pharmacists to provide the flu shot has had a substantial impact on improving immunization rates and access across the country; however, their ability to administer vaccines for other infectious diseases is limited in most parts of Canada.  A recent report published by the C.D Howe Institute on improving vaccination policy in Canada suggests that further expanding pharmacists' scope of practice to administer vaccines  could help reduce the costs and barriers that make it difficult for Canadians to access immunization services.  If we want to improve overall immunization rates, evidence suggests that pharmacists have a key role to play in achieving this goal as highly trusted, professional and accessible members of Canada's health care system.

CPhA’s recent survey of Canadians on vaccination and medication adherence also found some concerning statistics. In 2014/15, 59% of Canadians indicated that they did not receive a flu shot. Of those who had not received a shot, 62% reported that they didn’t think they needed it. The survey also asked Canadians if they had ever stopped taking their medication before they were advised to. Three in ten Canadians indicated they had and when asked why, over 50% said they felt they no longer needed to take it. The lack of public confidence in vaccines and medications are troubling trends which governments and health care professionals need to address.

While all Canadians have a role to play in the protection of our families, friends and communities by getting vaccinated, Canadians require easy access to immunization services and better information about the benefits of vaccines and potential risks of alternative treatments. In addition, the lack of adherence to medication regimes is resulting in poor health outcomes and rising health care costs.  Canada's 39,000 pharmacists are located in every community across the country and are highly trusted by Canadians to provide the advice and services necessary to raise immunization rates, medication adherence and make significant contributions to a healthier Canada.

More information about this survey, including provincial-specific results, can be located on the Pharmacist Awareness Month 2015 website.


 For more information, please contact:

Jeff Morrison
Director of Government Relations and Public Affairs
613-523-7877 x386


Provincial pharmacy association media contacts