Tackling vaccine hesitancy

Date: 10 November 2021

Ways in which pharmacists can allay people’s safety, efficacy and other concerns over vaccines are described in a new resource published by the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP).

Co-editor of the toolkit, and FIP lead for practice development and transformation, Gonçalo Sousa Pinto, said sub-optimal acceptance of the COVID-19 vaccine remained a concern.

“But the concept of vaccine hesitancy predates the pandemic,” he said.

“In 2019, for example, the World Health Organization listed vaccine hesitancy among the top 10 threats to global health, threatening to reverse progress made in tackling vaccine-preventable diseases.”

Building vaccine confidence and communicating vaccine value: A toolkit for pharmacists details approaches for communicating and eliciting change and addressing misinformation directly with individuals.

In addition, it provides examples of successful immunisation campaigns. Guidance on advice for different types of vaccines, such as influenza, pneumococcal and shingles, is also provided. 

“FIP is concerned with interruptions to immunisation programmes during this COVID-19 pandemic and we are already seeing undesirable outcomes such as an increase in cases of polio,” Mr Sousa Pinto said.  

“Outbreaks of measles in recent years are another demonstration of what can happen if our populations are not vaccinated.

Dr Amy Chan, co-author of the toolkit and senior clinical research fellow, University of Auckland and Auckland District Health Board, New Zealand, said pharmacists could play a unique role in promoting immunisation due to their expertise, skills, trustworthiness and accessibility to the general population.

“Their contacts with patients provide valuable opportunities to engage in meaningful conversations and build vaccine confidence. Improving vaccination coverage and promoting a patient-centred, personalised approach to vaccination is a key part of our global response to current and future infectious diseases, to which pharmacists can greatly contribute,” Dr Chan said.

“This toolkit provides practical tips and tools that can support individual pharmacists and organisations in achieving global vaccine coverage in an effective way.”

The toolkit can be accessed here.

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Page last updated on: 10 November 2021