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Pharmacists to administer vaccines for first time in R.I., April 24

Media Contact: Dave Lavallee, 401-874-5862

Pneumococcal vaccines to be given to adults at Face of Pharmacy event at the Statehouse

KINGSTON, R.I. April 21, 2008 University of Rhode Island clinical pharmacy professors will be the first pharmacists to administer vaccines in the state.

The professors, all registered pharmacists, will provide the pneumococcal vaccine to adults at the fifth annual Face of Pharmacy Day at the Statehouse Thursday, April 24 from 2 to 4:30 p.m. Face of Pharmacy is a joint program of the Rhode Island Pharmacists Association, the Rhode Island Society of Health Systems Pharmacists and the University.

The historic event follows legislation passed by the General Assembly last year that made Rhode Island the 46th state to allow vaccinations by pharmacists. In February, the state Department of Health issued regulations governing immunizations delivered by pharmacists.

Kelly Orr, clinical assistant professor of pharmacy at URI and president of the Rhode Island Pharmacists Association, said 11 URI faculty members took part in 20 hours of training approved by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Pharmacists Association. From that total, another six were certified as trainers for the program. So far that group has trained 30 Rhode Island pharmacists in the vaccine program.

"This provides another opportunity for pharmacists to be part of the health care team," Orr said. "It brings pharmacists in this state up to the standard of practice throughout the rest of the nation. We are expanding services and increasing access to vaccinations for all adults in Rhode Island."

Orr said the pharmacists' association reached out to physicians' and nurses' groups to ensure that they were interested in working cooperatively. The pharmacists are permitted to vaccinate adults only. Pediatric patients should continue to receive their vaccinations from medical doctors or nurses.

Jef Bratberg, URI clinical assistant professor of pharmacy, was trained to vaccinate patients and to train other pharmacists. "We were trained in all phases of vaccination, from the science to the business aspects of it."

Bratberg said the appropriate protocols to administer pneumococcal vaccinations at the Statehouse are in place. Such protocols, authorized by a physician, will be required of a pharmacist who wants to immunize adults in their practice.

The legislation will affect the curriculum for the six-year doctor of pharmacy degree awarded by the URI College of Pharmacy. "Immunization is now an integral part of students' education, it is a skill they will possess as they graduate," Bratberg said.

"If a patient receives a vaccination from me, I have the opportunity to also educate him or her on other disease states, plus check to see if they are up-to-date on other vaccinations," Bratberg said. "Some people work all day and are unable to get to a doctor's office or flu clinic when they are open, so being able to get the flu shot at the pharmacy is a major convenience."

Face of Pharmacy at the Statehouse is free and open to the public. In addition to the pneumococcal vaccinations, pharmacists will provide blood pressure, glucose, and cholesterol screening, and information on medication therapy management. In addition, Kristina Ward, clinical assistant professor of pharmacy, and host of the popular ABC 6 segment "Ask the Pharmacist," will also be on hand to answer pharmacy questions.

Link here for a flyer(pdf) about this event.