How to promote flu immunizations at your pharmacy

The Tablet

Across North America, British Columbia and in your hometown, the flu is getting ready to cause trouble. Missed days of work will increase, hospital admissions for flu-related symptoms will also go up. Fever, coughs and sore throats, aches and pains, and the feeling that you should constantly use hand sanitizer will be on the rise. Influenza isn’t just discomfort, it causes about 12,000 hospitalizations and 3,500 deaths in Canada each year. 

The best way for your patients to avoid the flu is to get vaccinated. 

Luckily, 95 per cent of pharmacies in BC have pharmacists who are qualified to give flu shots. In 2016-2017, BC pharmacists immunized over 550,000 people. That’s an increase of 27 per cent over the previous year!

Such levels were achievable thanks, in part, to pharmacists' hard work earning their certifications for drug administration by injection and intranasal route, informing their patients that they offer flu shots and working through busy flu clinics.

Flu vaccines for 2017-2018 are on their way to local health authorities and you may have already made plans to support handling flu vaccination patients as well as promoting flu shots at your pharmacy. 

How else can you support in-pharmacy flu immunizations?

  • Make sure your flu clinic locator information is up-to-date with the BCCDC. Add your hours, age restrictions and dates so patients and health units can see if you are providing flu shots. Last year’s information will not be posted unless you confirm your info at www.immunizebc.ca/user.  
  • Keep up-to-date on the latest information about distribution and PINs on bcpharmacy.ca or at immunizebc.ca. 
  • Post your posters, hang your shelf-talkers and hand out your bag stuffers. You can download more posters from immunizebc.ca/get-vaccinated/ print-resources if you’ve run out.  Ask community partners and locations if you can post a poster in your local community centre, coffee shop or City Hall.
  • Have a conversation about flu shots with each customer. Make sure they know they can get their shot at your pharmacy today, and be covered if they meet the same criteria as they would at their doctor’s office or health unit clinic. 
  • Visit our updated website and find out the latest news on the immunization campaign.
  • Email communications@bcpharmacy.ca and see about setting up some media coverage for flu immunization in your community. 

We want to hear from you. What are your best tips for promoting vaccinations to patients? Email your answer to communications@bcpharmacy.ca. All answers may be used in a future issue and our favourite tip will win a prize.

Invite local politicians to get a flu shot at your clinic. Last year, MLA Shane Simpson dropped in for his flu shot  with Anoop Khurana.

This article is featured in The Tablet. The Tablet features pharmacy and industry news, profiles on B.C. pharmacists, information on research developments and new products.