Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador, PEI and the Territories deserve same access to preventative care as rest of Canada

PR Newswire

New report shows significantly more Canadians could be vaccinated for flu if pharmacists in all provinces could immunize

TORONTO, Dec. 12, 2013 /CNW/ - It's simple, immunizations save lives.  Diseases like polio, mumps and measles have virtually been eradicated in the developed world thanks to immunization, yet Canadians in all provinces and territories still do not get equal access to this type of preventative care.

A new report, The Sustainable Solutions Report: A Focus on Immunizations, released today shows pharmacists have the ability to significantly increase vaccination rates in Canada and save the health care system valuable dollars by reducing the number of hospitalizations due to complications from the flu.  The report was developed by Shoppers Drug Mart and is endorsed by the Ontario Pharmacists Association, the Pharmacists' Association of Newfoundland and Labrador, the New Brunswick Pharmacists' Association and the Prince Edward Island Pharmacists Association.

The Canadian Pharmacists Association (CPhA) supports the Report's recommendations. "We know when pharmacists offer immunization services more people get vaccinated," said Perry Eisenschmid, CPhA's Chief Executive Officer. "It's already happening with great success in many provinces; however,to really make an impact, pharmacists in all provinces should be granted the authority to administer common vaccinations like influenza and tetanus, but we need provincial governments' help to make it happen."

Allowing pharmacists to vaccinate, in addition to physicians and public health, will increase system capacity and immunization rates. According to a report issued by the broader pharmacy community called 9,000 Points of Care: Improving Access to Improving Access to Affordable Healthcare, it is estimated that if pharmacists administered common vaccinations including flu shots, immunization rates for vaccinations like flu shots would increase by 1 to 3 per cent in Canada.i This could help to reduce the 75,000 hospital admissions attributed to the flu each year.

Already this flu season in Ontario alone, 446,000 people have received flu vaccinations from pharmacists.  These types of activities can result in a 52 per cent reduction in health care service costs, helping to avoid hospitalizations for the flu. The average cost for an influenza-related hospital stay of 6 days is more than $6,400 and it costs $220 for an emergency room visit. ii

"Pharmacists are trusted health care professionals that are easy to access making them a much more convenient choice for many Canadians," said Domenic Pilla, President and CEO of Shoppers Drug Mart. "Canadians in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nunavut, Yukon and the Northwest Territories deserve access to this same type of preventative care as those in the rest of the country."

Physicians and Canadians agree.  A recent study by the Canadian Pharmacists Association found 48 per cent of Canadians said they would likely choose to get their flu shot at a pharmacy if the service was available in their province; a further 45 per cent said the same of vaccinations overall. A recent survey of physicians showed 61per cent felt pharmacists in all provinces should be given the authority to vaccinate for flu.iii  Convenience was cited by both groups as the biggest benefit to seeing a pharmacist for vaccinations.

Currently, only pharmacists in British Columbia, Alberta and New Brunswick have the ability to administer a broad range of injections like influenza, human papillomavirus, hepatitis A or B, tetanus, pneumococcal and diphtheria, while pharmacists in Ontario and Nova Scotia can vaccinate for flu only.

Expanding pharmacists' scope of practice, according to the Sustainable Solutions Report, has other benefits too, including reducing physician workload and wait times. The average family physician wait time is 1.35 days for urgent care and over 3 weeks for non-urgent care.iv  Pharmacists can play a key role in relieving pressure on family physicians, helping to free up time for patients with more complex care needs.

There is also a benefit to workplace productivity. The average flu season causes an estimated loss of 1.5 million working days in Canada, resulting in healthcare costs and lost productivity equaling $1 billion.v By ensuring more people remain healthy, pharmacists can help ease the burden if illness on corporate Canada too.

For the detailed recommendations included in the Sustainable Solutions Report: A Focus on Immunizations visit http://corporate.shoppersdrugmart.ca/en-ca/press-centre/sustainable-solutions-report.

About Shoppers Drug Mart Corporation

Shoppers Drug Mart Corporation is one of the most recognized and trusted names in Canadian retailing.  The Company is the licensor of full-service retail drug stores operating under the name Shoppers Drug Mart (Pharmaprix in Québec).  With more than 1,244 Shoppers Drug Mart and Pharmaprix stores operating in prime locations in each province and two territories, the Company is one of the most convenient retailers in Canada.  The Company also licenses or owns 57 medical clinic pharmacies operating under the name Shoppers Simply Pharmacy (Pharmaprix Simplement Santé in Québec) and six luxury beauty destinations operating as Murale.  As well, the Company owns and operates 62 Shoppers Home Health Care stores, making it the largest Canadian retailer of home health care products and services.  In addition to its retail store network, the Company owns Shoppers Drug Mart Specialty Health Network Inc., a provider of specialty drug distribution, pharmacy and comprehensive patient support services; and MediSystem Technologies Inc., a provider of pharmaceutical products and services to long-term care facilities.

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i9000 Points of Care: Improving Access to Affordable Healthcare, April 2013, pg. 12. Available online at: http://9000pointsofcare.ca/ wp-content/uploads/The-Plan.pdf.
ii Sander , Kwong JC, Bauch CT, et al. Economic Appraisal of Ontario's Universal Influenza Immunization Program: A Cost Utility AnalysisPLoS Med. 2010; 7:e1000256.
iii Environics Research Group, Physician Research on Expanded Scope of Practice, May 2013.
iv9000 Points of Care: Improving Access to Affordable Healthcare, April 2013, pg. 11. Available online at: http://9000pointsofcare.ca/ wp-content/uploads/The-Plan.pdf.
v Canadian Healthcare Influenza Immunization Network.  Influenza Fact Sheet. www.chiin.ca (accessed Dec 3, 2013 at http://www.benefitscanada.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/influenzaatwork-2012-e1.pdf)

Image with caption: "Why It Makes Dollars and "Sense" for Pharmacists to Administer Flu Vaccines (CNW Group/Shoppers Drug Mart Corporation)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20131212_C4124_PHOTO_EN_34921.jpg

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