Does policy change to allow pharmacist provision of influenza vaccination increase population uptake? A systematic review

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Spinks, Jean
Bettington, Emilie
Downes, Martin
Nissen, Lisa
Wheeler, Amanda
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ObjectiveThe aims of this study were to estimate the effect of pharmacists' vaccinating for influenza on overall vaccination rates and to assess whether any effect differs for at-risk subgroups compared with the general population.MethodsA systematic review was undertaken, adhering to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. Databases were searched during July 2019 and included Medline (Ovid), Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), Scopus and the Cochrane Library.ResultsThe largest difference reported in overall population vaccination rates associated with pharmacists undertaking influenza vaccinations was an increase of 10%; the smallest showed no discernible effect. The effect was graduated: pharmacists with the most autonomy demonstrated the largest rate increases. There was evidence of substitution by pharmacists, but the effect size was small.ConclusionsThe effect of allowing pharmacists to administer influenza vaccinations appears positive, but small. Given that pharmacists are likely to provide vaccinations at a lower cost than doctors, there may be cost-savings to the health system and consumers. Future research may include evaluating pharmacist-provided vaccinations compared with (or in combination with) other strategies, such as advertising, to increase access and uptake across the range of providers, as well as ongoing research to address vaccine hesitancy.What is known about the topic?In Australia, and many other countries, community pharmacies provide an alternative and accessible option for influenza vaccination; however the effect on overall vaccination rates remains unclear.What does this paper add?This systematic review of the international literature suggests that pharmacist-provided vaccinations increase uptake; substitution of doctors by pharmacists may result in cost savings.What are the implications for practitioners?The findings of this study are important for health policy makers and health workforce researchers aiming to maximise population vaccination rates and workforce efficiency. In the absence of available Australian data, data from the international experience of legislating pharmacists to vaccinate against influenza are summarised and critiqued. Results can be used when determining the best health workforce and policy mix with regard to the vaccination workforce.

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Australian Health Review

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Spinks, J; Bettington, E; Downes, M; Nissen, L; Wheeler, A, Does policy change to allow pharmacist provision of influenza vaccination increase population uptake? A systematic review, Australian Health Review, 2020, 44 (4), pp. 582–589