Community pharmacists are excellently positioned within European primary care communities to provide information, advice, referral, treatment and preventative actions to reduce the burden of communicable and vaccine-preventable diseases. As part of their wider public health mission, community pharmacists and pharmacy organisations are also involved in public awareness campaigns on topics such as antimicrobial resistance and vaccine hesitancy.
In addition to their core range of services and activities, community pharmacists across Europe are increasingly providing new and innovative services to complement wider efforts within health services to reduce the transmission of communicable diseases, improve effectiveness of treatment and increase vaccination coverage of the population.
In April 2018 PGEU published its Best Practice Paper on Communicable Diseases and Vaccination which highlights a number of innovative services and activities which are provided by community pharmacists across Europe in response to the threat posed by communicable diseases and vaccine hesitancy. It also highlights potential future and emerging pharmacy services which could strengthen the resilience of European health systems in the area of communicable diseases and vaccine hesitancy.
In the Paper, PGEU makes a number of recommendations to EU Institutions, Member States and the wider public in order to maximise the contribution community pharmacists make to tackling communicable diseases and improving vaccination coverage:
- European institutions and agencies are encouraged to continue and strengthen collaboration with community pharmacists and pharmacy organisations at European level, for example in the Joint Actions on Antimicrobial Resistance and Vaccination;
- National governments are called-upon to include and integrate community pharmacists into national vaccination strategies;
- Pharmacists should be enabled to provide new and innovative services in response to the threat posed by communicable diseases and vaccine hesitancy;
- Pharmacists should be better integrated into primary healthcare systems and services, for example, integration of electronic health records to facilitate efficient notification of pharmacists’ interventions to the patient’s medical record;
- Services, such as vaccinations should be globally commissioned within national health systems;
- Pharmacists should be encouraged to vaccinate themselves against influenza.