British Columbians can now access a wide variety of publicly funded vaccines from their local pharmacist, giving them increased access and choice, Health Minister Margaret MacDiarmid announced today.
"Pharmacists are a very important and valuable component of our health-care system," said MacDiarmid. "With this expansion, eligible patients will have increased access and choice when it comes to protecting themselves and their families from diseases such as tetanus, measles and hepatitis."
Pharmacists already play a key role in providing immunizations to protect British Columbians aged five years and older from diseases such as influenza, pneumococcal pneumonia, pertussis and HPV (the virus that can lead to some cervical cancers).
The additional vaccines that pharmacists are now able to provide include:
- Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR).
- Hepatitis A and B - especially at pharmacies in communities where risks of infection are high.
- Varicella (chicken pox) and Hepatitis B - as supplements to the school-based program.
- HPV (the virus that can lead to some cervical cancers) for women born in 1991 - 1993.
- Pneumococcal polysaccharide, for seniors over 65 years of age, or people at increased risk of pneumococcal disease, including those with chronic diseases.
- Meningococcal C Conjugate vaccine.
- Pertussis vaccine.
"This expansion of available publicly funded vaccines is a positive move and makes effective use of pharmacists' extensive training and skills," said Bob Nakagawa, registrar with the College of Pharmacists of BC. "We know that vaccines help save lives and prevent illness, and by making vaccines easier and more convenient for British Columbians to receive, we will help to ensure as many people are protected as possible."
Pharmacists must undergo additional training to be authorized to give vaccines. There are now more than 2,000 pharmacists authorized to provide vaccines throughout British Columbia, with more added all the time.
Since 2009, authorized pharmacists have had access to vaccine products for sale and administration within the private payer system, and limited access to publicly funded vaccines. With this change, authorized pharmacists will be able to administer almost all publicly funded vaccines.
British Columbia's publicly funded immunization program protects British Columbians from up to 16 vaccine preventable diseases, saving countless lives and preventing illness. To learn more about B.C.'s immunization program, visit http://immunizebc.ca
Media Relations Manager
Ministry of Health
250 952-1887 (media line)