Pharmacy-Based Immunization delivery: a world tour of the key success factors to implement it

How can pharmacies become a turnkey point for better population immunization? In various countries of the world, pharmacies are evolving, especially thanks to digitalization. They are more and more service-oriented. Part of the observed changes is new ways to manage populations to be vaccinated. Thus, it is now possible to get vaccinated in pharmacies in many countries around the world. Why is this practice, commonly known as Pharmacy-Based Immunization (PBI) delivery, an important contributor to better immunization strategies? What are the technologies, services and organizations that can participate in its improvement?

Pharmacists are particularly suited to offer vaccination services and increase awareness

Suboptimal uptake of vaccination is an important ongoing global issue, especially in the adult population. In Western countries, the main reasons for non-vaccination are the lack of time, the lack of awareness and the mistrust regarding vaccination. But even more so with the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines, it will be necessary to increase vaccination capacity and above all find solutions to make vaccination more accessible to the population.

As pharmacists are accessible healthcare professionals and as they have the capabilities to vaccinate people, pharmacies are an ideal place to vaccinate easily and quickly, but also to educate. Indeed, in countries where pharmacies have an extended role on immunization, there is a significant improvement in the immunization rate.

For health system and governments, Pharmacy-Based Immunization delivery will allow improved access to vaccination, increased education and so increased vaccination coverage. The health economic burden associated with costs for patients’ management will also be alleviated.

For pharmacists, it will generate additional sources of revenue and increase their store traffic. Plus, it allows for the creation of differentiated value and solution-oriented approaches.

And for patients, it is a new vaccination channel which responds to patients’ need of convenience.

A real evolution can be observed in the direction of the Pharmacy-Based Immunization delivery implementation around the world. In 2016, pharmacists were authorized to administer vaccines in 13 countries. In 2020, 26 countries authorize and support such implementation. In addition, a significant number of countries are currently developing policies and regulatory changes to introduce this valuable service soon. So more and more countries are implementing this practice in their country.

The digital contribution to Pharmacy-Based Immunization delivery development and scale-up

Successful initiatives to help implementing Pharmacy-Based Immunization delivery

Most advanced countries regarding Pharmacy-Based Immunization delivery are also paving the way on best implementation strategies. With these strategies come tools and initiatives that have been used to promote the introduction of this practice. 6 types of tools or actions have been identified in that direction:

  • Advocacy support: Digital channels scale-up the efforts of global lobbying and incentive actions demonstrating the value of Pharmacy-Based Immunization delivery to governments and policy makers.
  • E-trainings: Online trainings, not only theoretical but also practical, including some to help them manage patients’ doubts about vaccination, are highly appreciated.
  • Communication tools: To support pharmacists in accomplishing their mission of raising awareness among the population, and among at-risk patients above all.
  • Interoperable immunization information systems: The implementation of IIS is essential to allow access to the data, and especially electronic vaccinations registries with the ability to record and share data more easily and the ability to alert patients.
  • Online websites and applications: With customized schedules and reminders for the patients, to take appointments, to receive information about disease outbreaks and to keep track of the vaccination records.
  • Decision-making tools: Patients screening tools to help pharmacists easily recognize patients targeted by vaccination campaigns.

Key success factors to implement Pharmacy-Based Immunization delivery

Some countries have made much more progress than others. Among the most advanced countries, which are Australia, UK, Ireland, Portugal, Switzerland, Canada and USA, a look at their healthcare systems organization reveals different key success factors such as:

  • The national studies demonstrating interest of PBI
  • The government and national healthcare system support
  • Conviction of pharmacists and general population
  • Adequate remuneration
  • The existence of immunization records
  • The existence of adequate and interoperable tools
  • The collaboration between pharmaceutical lab, pharma associations and national governments
  • A strong vaccine supply chain

Today, there are still several barriers to overcome regarding Pharmacy-Based Immunization delivery development. Pharmaceutical companies and public healthcare system can help to overcome them such as the lack of national support, lack of economic and regulatory frameworks, lack of adequate training and lack of good equipment.

Pharmacy-Based Immunization delivery practice cannot yet be considered routine, given all the limitations that still exist. But with the vaccination against COVID-19, we will surely see a clear acceleration in the implementation of this practice. It remains to be seen which pharmaceutical companies will succeed in doing so by proposing innovative initiatives to pharmacists or their partners!


About the author
Marion, Consultant in Alcimed’s Healthcare team in France

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