The International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) has issued a new policy statement which encourages a “life-course” approach to vaccination by pharmacists.
In the statement, published on September 27, FIP backed expansion of vaccine schedules and strategies so that patients of all age groups could be vaccinated throughout their entire lifespan, from infancy to old age.
A life-course approach in public health and healthcare focuses on an individual’s health and well-being, including vaccination, administered throughout their entire lifespan, from infancy to old age.
FIP urged governments and policymakers to eliminate regulatory barriers, enabling pharmacists to prescribe and administer all relevant vaccines throughout the life-course. Additionally, FIP recommended that policymakers develop remuneration models for pharmacies to deliver sustainable life-course vaccination services within the private and public sectors.
“A life-course immunisation 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,” said Luís Lourenço, FIP professional secretary and co-chair of the FIP policy committee that developed the statement.
“Vaccine-preventable diseases are a significant cause of morbidity, including loss of functional ability, and mortality in older people because a gradual deterioration of the immune system brought on by increased age makes them more susceptible to infections,” Lourenço added.
The federation emphasised the integration of pharmacists into immunisation pathways for older individuals and other special-risk groups, including those with long-term conditions, pregnant individuals, healthcare professionals, underserved populations, and caregivers.
Furthermore, the policy statement underscored the role of pharmacists in bolstering vaccine confidence and mitigating vaccine hesitancy. “Enhancing accessibility, a key driver for boosting vaccination rates across all age groups, is an area where pharmacy can make a significant contribution,” Lourenço added.
To enable pharmacists to actively participate in life-course vaccination, the policy statement provides recommendations for various stakeholders including governments, policymakers, FIP member organisations, as well as pharmacy practitioners and educators.
Meanwhile, here in the UK, the pharmacy vision document, jointly published by Nuffield Trust and The King’s Fund, highlighted that achieving the community pharmacy vision hinges on legal adjustments and supplementary funding, beyond recent boosts. However, it identifies enduring obstacles in realising this vision. These stem from outdated infrastructure, equipment, and IT systems, as well as challenges in staff training, regulation, and the seamless integration of pharmacies with other primary care services.