Since vaccinations in pharmacies are possible in some European countries, the question arises whether this should be allowed in Germany, and if this would result in a higher vaccination rate.
The aim of this extensive evaluation within pharmacists, physicians, patients and stakeholders, combined with an economic evaluation, was to find out whether vaccinations (especially flu vaccination) would be accepted as an OTC (pharmacy-only) therapy (under special circumstances) within the healthcare professional’s community and whether there is a need for such an Rx-to-OTC switch. At the same time, we evaluated the reasons given for and against this possibility.
Several surveys were performed, using different methodologies. A total of eight large-scale surveys, one economic analysis and one stakeholder survey were conducted. Six of them are relevant to vaccinations in pharmacies. The pharmacist surveys were conducted exclusively digitally. The physicians’ survey was made available digitally for answering and additionally as a paper sheet in the print edition for return by fax. The respective questionnaires contained between five and 17 questions on the topic and could all be answered in about five to ten minutes. Bundesverband der Arzneimittel-Hersteller e.V. (BAH, German Medicines Manufacturers’ Association) Health Monitor hosted the patient survey and included telephone interviews. The stakeholder survey included personal interviews.
940 pharmacists and pharmaceutical technical assistants took part in the initial pharmacist survey. In the subsequent pharmacist surveys, there were almost 4,000 participants. Within the physicians’ survey 540 responses were received and within the BAH Health Monitor 1,000 telephone interviews were conducted. Within the stakeholder survey, 24 interviews were made with 32 participants from wide-spread professional background; most of them are involved in the German switch process. 47% of the participating physicians younger than 50 years see flu vaccinations in pharmacies as a possible switch candidate. About 50% of pharmacists surveyed were positive about influenza vaccinations in pharmacies. And only 25% of surveyed patients would use such an offer in pharmacies. The economic evaluation found that if an increase of 18% of the vaccination rate happens 62 flu-related deaths could be avoided.
The view of pharmacists and physicians are divided into supporter and rejecter groups of almost the same size when it comes to flu vaccination administered in pharmacies. There is a need to increase the vaccination rates in Germany and therefore it is important to consider possible changes in this sector.
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