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Immunization Updates

Published on 08 September 2016

Thousands of patients every year turn to their pharmacist to provide important vaccinations for their families. Each year, new recommendations are published. To ensure pharmacists in Missouri are up to date, Golden Peters, Pharm.D., BCPS, associate professor of pharmacy practice at St. Louis College of Pharmacy, is sharing the latest guidelines at the 2016 Missouri Pharmacy Association Annual Conference & Expo.

Pneumonia Vaccine

Patients over the age of 65 should wait a year between receiving the two pneumonia vaccines. Peters says the new recommendation is designed to clarify guidelines and make the management of vaccine schedules easier. Until this point, the guidelines had patients waiting between six months and a year.

“This removes a gray area, which I believe will help increase vaccine rates,” Peters added. “Some health care providers were providing immunizations at six months, others at nine or twelve months.”

In Missouri, 72 percent of those over 65 say they’ve received at least one pneumonia vaccine. Once fully vaccinated following both injections, patients are protected against 24 separate strains of Streptococcus pneumoniae.

Flu Vaccine

In addition to reviewing the new recommendations against the nasal vaccine, Peters says there is another, less publicized development affecting patients with egg allergies. The majority of flu vaccines use chicken eggs as part of the production process. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says patients who have never had a severe allergic reaction to eggs can receive the standard flu vaccine.

“Patients still need to tell their pharmacist they have an egg allergy,” Peters counseled. “In most cases, the patient will be watched for 15 minutes just to ensure there’s no reaction.”

Immunization Schedule Redesign

Another item on Peters’ agenda does not deal with a change in recommendation, but a change in style. The CDC recently issued a new childhood immunization schedule.

“It comes down to clarity. The chart is now much easier to read for both parents and providers,” Peters said.

The new chart has separate lines for each vaccination. Earlier versions were grouped only by age.

“I think it will reduce errors,” Peters said. “Anything will be helpful for sure.”

Cholera

For the first time this summer, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a vaccine against cholera. The vaccine is intended for adults who are traveling to a cholera-affected region.

“It’s really convenient,” Peters said. “One dose taken ten days before travel will protect patients for the trip. Research found 80 percent efficacy after 3 months.”

A complete agenda for this year’s convention can be found at the MPA website.

Correction: Sept. 10, 2016
An earlier version of this story misstated the number of strains of Streptococcus pneumoniae from which patients who receive both pneumonia vaccines are protected. The story has been corrected.

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