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Pharmacies provide more than meds and flu shots

A local pharmacist counsels a client on the monitoring of blood sugar and the appropriate use of glucose tablets as part of diabetes self-care.
A local pharmacist counsels a client on the monitoring of blood sugar and the appropriate use of glucose tablets as part of diabetes self-care.

UW School of Pharmacy faculty highlight the important role of pharmacists as part of the healthcare team

Autumn brings back sweater weather, pumpkin spices—and health check ups for kids. UW School of Pharmacy Clinical Assistant Professor Rachel Firebaugh likes to remind people that, “Fall is also the perfect time for adults to get their health checked too.”

Your local pharmacy is a great place to start.

“Your pharmacist can help with more than just the flu shot—they can check to see if your other vaccinations are up-to-date, such as pneumonia, shingles, and pertussis.,” says Firebaugh

Kaiser Health News recently published a story questioning when and where it’s best to get your annual flu shots. The questions seem to arise from a recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), noting, “Everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine every year by the end of October, if possible. However, getting vaccinated later is OK.”

Being up to date on your vaccinations improves your health and the health of those around you. A 2010 study by the CDC found that flu vaccines cut flu-related hospitalizations by 50 percent among older adults.

Pharmacies are one of the most convenient places to get vaccinated. Being able to get vaccinations without an appointment and while you are running errands at the grocery store means you are more likely to take care of that key step for your health.

In many medically underserved and rural communities, the local pharmacy is the only health provider in the area, thereby making pharmacists one of the keys in increasing access to care.

The UW School of Pharmacy has a novel student-training partnership with Era Living retirement communities. At a recent presentation, Firebaugh reminded residents that getting the flu shot not only helps themselves, but it can also help protect babies, family members and others we care about and come into contact with regularly. The timing, length and severity of the flu varies from year to year so Firebaugh reminds her audience that “the most important thing is to get immunized.”

Pharmacist-provided vaccines were among the first of many practice innovations begun in Washington state as a result of the advocacy of UW School of Pharmacy faculty.

The School of Pharmacy, Bartell Drugs, and QFC Pharmacy will partner with Washington State Health Care Authority in a unusual demonstration project that aims to foster healthcare collaboration across the care continuum. This effort to increase pharmacy-based immunizations is called Project VACCINATE. It brings together faculty researchers and practitioners who will tap into the diverse expertise at the School of Pharmacy, from patient-care implementation to emergency preparedness.

Advance your career as a pharmacist at the University of Washington. Learn more about our nationally and globally top-ranked PharmD Program.

Link to Department of Pharmacy archived news