Magazine article Drug Topics

Student Pharmacists Take Immunization into the Community

Magazine article Drug Topics

Student Pharmacists Take Immunization into the Community

Article excerpt


As immunization coordinator during my second year as a dual PharrnD/??? student, I became aware of issues that collectively lead to outbreaks of infectious diseases. Not only do parents hold misconceptions about childhood vaccinations, but there is also a lack of vaccination advocacy and information is not readily forthcoming from healthcare providers, including pharmacists. Therefore I took on the challenge of educating the community about vaccinations as an important means of preventive care.

With the help of our faculty advisor, my classmates and I applied for and received grants from the American Pharmacists Association and the California Society of Health-System Pharmacists to support a study of public attitudes toward and knowledge of immunization. Under pharmacist supervision, student pharmacists provided free immunization information and vaccinations for influenza and tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (Tdap) to underserved communities in the East Bay area of Northern California.

Immunization issues

Influenza is the eighth leading cause of death in the United States, with 49,000 deaths occurring between 1976 and 2007. ' Over the past three years, pertussis outbreaks have resulted in 32,000 cases and 16 deaths in the nation.2

In 2010, California saw its highest pertussis outbreak in 63 years - a fivefold increase in incidence compared to the previous year's cases. The highest rates clustered in Marin and San Luis Obispo counties, where many still believe that childhood vaccinations cause autism. Consequently, California responded to this pertussis outbreak by mandating that grades 7 through 12 receive a booster dose of Tdap.

Many studies have shown that written educational information, including pamphlets or brochures such as the Vaccine Information Statements (VIS), is not as effective as direct consultations in transmitting knowledge and influencing attitudes toward immunization.3 In addition, one-third of parents who claimed they had access to immunization information made no use of it, clinging instead to previous misconceptions.4

When parents refuse to allow their children to receive vaccinations, these children are placed at greater risk of contracting and spreading infections, and the health of the community is compromised.

The study

Our study used pharmacy students to educate the public about the benefits of vaccination. Our goal was to help change individual attitudes toward immunization by providing accurate and convincing information that would dispel the myths surrounding the issue of vaccination. We offered this service at local churches, middle schools, clinics, and homeless shelters. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.