According to the CDC, it is estimated that 90% of mortalities associated with the Flu this season will be recorded in patients 65 years and older. As community Pharmacists we have an advantage in the sense that we can leverage our trust relationships to bolster our immunization schemes. As the Pharmacist immunization protocol continues to expand, we will be engaging more patients in conversations on the need for these shots going forward, and of course with that comes various barriers to accepting the need for the shot. Some of the barriers will be cultural, some are “learned” and some are just based on sheer fear of the needle. Even though the Flu vaccination only accounts for a portion of our immunization offerings, there are many other vaccines available at the retail pharmacy today. Recognizing & addressing these barriers with correct, current information will go a long way in helping us remove them and increase our immunization rate. The lessons learnt here in the Flu arena can be extrapolated to other areas. As pharmacists, the onus is on us to provide our patients with vital facts to help drive holistic well-being & partner with them on their paths to leading a better healthier life. There is definitely more awareness in the community now and its only getting bigger & stronger. As we encounter these barriers it is very important for us to collate them, tally them up, and rank them in some logical order of occurrences. The theory of “Vital Few Versus the Useful Many” will come in handy here è referred to as the Pareto Principle.
Vilfredo Pareto, in 1906 Italy discovered that 80% of the land was controlled by 20 % of the population. This gave birth to the 80/20 rule. This is as true in business as it is in many "Verticals", including manufacturing, financials, Information Technology, and even immunization. The rationale is that if we can identify & focus on addressing the top 20% of these concerns; we will be able to influence 80% of our audience. I have been able to achieve over 300% acceptance and administration rate over same time LY by using this simple strategy. Some of the concerns encountered in my practice include the following;
a) I don’t believe in Flu shots, they actually make me sick
b) Flu shots don’t work for me. Got it sometime ago and still got the Flu
c) I will have to contact my Primary Care Practitioner, PCP first before I decide
d) Co Pay & other Third Party Concerns
e) I got it already this year
f) I am a caregiver, I don’t need it
g) Next time I come I will get it
As pharmacists we should not just dismiss these legitimate concerns, our responsibility is to educate these patients on the benefits of the shot over actually getting the Flu. We should be creative in our approach to solving this problem. To ensure success prepare your answers to these comments before hand and be able to back up your claims with easy to understand unbiased data. Leverage the ton of information on the CDC website to assist you. In fact, I recommend role paying with your pharmacy technicians and other support staff to perfect your responses.
Please visit and explore the CDC website, there are useful resources to assist you in addressing these concerns.