WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — If an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, then that means 200 sq. ft. of retail pharmacy is the equivalent to acres of doctors' offices and medical clinics. If inhibitive cost, lack of awareness and prohibitive access represent the reasons behind why more people don’t get vaccinated, then pharmacy provides the all-in-one solution — because pharmacy can help eclipse each one of those vaccine barriers.
(THE NEWS: HHS unveils National Vaccine Plan. For the full story, click here)
Pharmacy represents a less expensive venue in which to get a vaccine shot, at least as opposed to making an additional doctor’s appointment on top of regular checkups. The pharmacist — or in the case of such retail clinics as MinuteClinic or Take Care Clinics, the nurse practitioner — is a well-schooled healthcare professional who can help educate the general public around the benefits of a vaccine, as well as help dispel any cryptic myths associated with a particular vaccine. And prohibitive access? Ready access is one of the key value propositions associated with both retail pharmacy and retail clinics.
Overcoming barriers to vaccine utilization is most important because of how well vaccines work. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, no one dies of diphtheria anymore since a vaccine for that bacterial infection has been introduced. There has been more than a 99% reduction in measles deaths and a 99% reduction in death by mumps. And while there has only been a 93% reduction in death resulting from the whooping cough, that very well could be because of those barriers to vaccine access.