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Chapter 8: The Role of Pharmacies
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The number of pharmacies providing immunizations to adults has been increasing since the 1990s, and as of 2019 all 50 states allow pharmacists to administer vaccines to adults.1 Pharmacies are familiar, convenient, and accessible immunization venues for adults, and have the potential for expanding immunization access to children and adolescents. State laws vary in age and other restrictions regarding administration of vaccines to children and adolescents.

Allowing pharmacies to participate in the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program has the potential to increase coverage rates, especially in populations who have reduced access to immunizations or those who would not seek care or interact with traditional health care providers who offer vaccination. Despite these benefits, pharmacy participation in the VFC program is low. Certain barriers to including pharmacies in the VFC program include concern from the pharmacies’ perspective relating to the volume of work needed to comply with VFC program requirements and billing and reimbursement differences with private insurance and/or Medicaid. Concerns from the VFC perspective include lack of standardization in immunization information system (IIS) reporting by pharmacies, and adherence to the strict vaccine storage and handling requirements.ii Immunization Programs interact with pharmacies in ways other than VFC enrollment to help increase awareness of vaccines and improve coverage rates. Immunization Programs can share information about recent changes in Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommendations and requirements or other educational resources, work with pharmacies related to pandemic influenza preparedness, encourage pharmacies to share data with the IIS, and many others.

The activities highlighted in this chapter relate to pharmacies:

  • Getting Started: Piloting expansion of VFC enrollment to pharmacies (Michigan)
  • Moving Forward: Enrolling pharmacies in the VFC program (Nevada)
  • Taking It to the Next Level: Evaluating impact of a new pharmacist vaccination law (Oregon)

1 American Pharmacists Association. Pharmacist authority to immunize - by type of immunization. January 2018. Access November 7, 2018.

2 ASTHO. Key Considerations for Pharmacies and the Vaccines for Children (VFC) Program:  Summary of Interview and Survey Findings, September 2015. Accessed November 7, 2018.

Immunization Program Highlights

Michigan: Piloting expansion of VFC enrollment to pharmacies

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Immunization Program piloted expansion of VFC enrollment for pharmacies in areas where access for adolescent vaccination was limited.

NEVADA: Enrolling pharmacies in the VFC program

The Nevada Department of Health and Human Service Immunization Program enrolled pharmacies in the VFC program in response to a new state Medicaid requirement.

OREGAN: Evaluating the impact of a new pharmacist vaccination law

The Oregon Immunization Program evaluated the impact of a change in Oregon pharmacy law on adolescent influenza vaccination.


Adolescent Guide: Chapter 8 Resources

Item Name Posted By Date Posted
AIM Data: How IP Collaborate with Pharmacies PDF (42.68 KB)  more ] Administration 6/25/2019
APhA HPV Immunization: Pharmacist Resource Center Link  more ] Administration 5/29/2019
American Pharmacists Association Link  more ] Administration 5/29/2019
ASTHO Report Link  more ] Administration 5/29/2019
Pharmacist Vaccination Laws Link  more ] Administration 5/29/2019
American Immunization Registry Association Link  more ] Administration 5/29/2019
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