Safety of Vaccinations

Image Source: Canva

The CDC considers vaccinations to be one of the top 10 public health achievements of the 20th century.1-3 Thanks to vaccines, the incidence, morbidity, mortality, and prevalence of vaccine-preventable diseases have considerably diminished since vaccinations became available. However, now that the COVID-19 vaccine has finally arrived, consumers are wondering whether it will be safe.

If you are having COVID-19 vaccine hesitation, know that the FDA has considered the vaccine adequately safe and effective. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccine have both received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the FDA for public use. To further ease any vaccine fears, below is information about vaccine safety, facts and myths about the COVID-19 vaccine and the benefit vaccines have on your health.

How the COVID-19 Vaccine works

This new vaccine works unlike any previous vaccinations, using a molecule called messenger RNA (mRNA) in a mechanism researchers have been developing for over 30 years. When infected with COVID-19, the virus uses a “spike protein” to attach and enter human cells. The vaccine uses mRNA to provide the body with a blueprint which stimulates human cells to make their own version of a spike protein (not the real virus) that triggers the immune system to make antibodies against it. Once the body makes antibodies against this synthetic spike protein, the body will be able to recognize the actual COVID-19 viral protein and quickly fight the real virus before it attaches to human cells and causes harm.

Herd Immunity

Herd immunity is when a large portion of a community (herd) becomes immune to a disease, lessening the spread of the disease from person to person. Current research shows that the development of natural immunity in people who have previously built-up antibodies from COVID-19 is not going to be enough to cause herd immunity within the community. Not everyone with a previous COVID-19 diagnosis is developing natural antibodies which protect against the spread of the virus, and those who do develop antibodies may begin to lose them over time. Therefore, routine vaccination against COVID-19 is essential to prevent living through another pandemic a year full of face masks and social distancing. Vaccines will first be prioritized to high-risk populations, including healthcare personnel and long-term care facilities. Recommendations suggest 2 shots into the muscle of the upper arm 3-4 weeks apart depending on the manufacturer (Pfizer vs Moderna). Per the FDA, available data currently shows receiving 2 doses of the vaccine is between 90.3% to 97.6% effective at preventing COVID-19.

The benefits vaccines have on health

There are two main benefits for vaccination:

  1. You can help lower your chance of getting certain disease
    • Hepatitis B vaccine lowers your risk of liver cancer.
    • HPV vaccine lowers your risk of cervical cancer.
    • Flu vaccine lowers your risk of flu-related heart attacks or other flu-related complications from existing health conditions like diabetes and chronic lung disease.
  2. You can lower your chance of spreading disease.
    • Some people in your family or community may not be able to get certain vaccines due to their age or health condition. They rely on you to help prevent the spread of disease.
    • Infants, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems (like those undergoing cancer treatment) are especially vulnerable to infectious disease.10

Facts surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine

There is now an authorized and recommended COVID-19 vaccination in the Unites States and many people are concerned about its safety. It is crucial to make sure you are getting accurate information about the vaccination. Below are FACTS from the CDC about COVID-19 vaccines:

  1. The COVID-19 vaccine will not give you COVID-19. It is not a traditional vaccination, currently none of the COVID-19 vaccines use the live virus that causes COVID-19. This vaccination helps our bodies fight the virus without us having to get the illness.
  2. Even if you have gotten sick with COVID-19, you may benefit from getting vaccinated. Re-infection is possible; therefore, it is advised to get a vaccination even if you have had COVID-19 before.
  3. Right now, there is a limited supply of the vaccine in the United States, but more will come in the following weeks and months.
  4. Getting a vaccine that uses mRNA will not change your DNA.  The COVID-19 vaccine contains mRNA or messenger ribonucleic acid which is best described as instructions for how to make a protein. It is important to know that that mRNA is not able to alter a person’s DNA. The mRNA from the COVID-19 vaccine will not enter the nucleus of the cell, where our DNA is found.

Myths surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine

There is a lot of misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccination. Below are MYTHS about the vaccine:

  1. Other immunizations such as the flu shot will prevent COVID-19.
  2. Infertility or other serious medical problems will occur if you get the COVID-19 vaccine.
  3. You will get a positive COVID-19 viral test if you get the COVID-19 vaccine.
  4. There will not be enough vaccinations for everyone.

If you are struggling to find credible vaccine information, use this link for recommendations of trustworthy sources: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vac-gen/evalwebs.htm.

Stats on the safety and effectiveness of vaccines

Vaccines are both safe and effective. They go through years of testing before the FDA licenses them for use. Both the CDC and FDA continue to track the safety of all licensed vaccines.6 The CDC tracks the safety of vaccinations through The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). VAERS was created in 1990 to detect any potential safety issues with U.S. vaccines. If anyone experiences problems after an immunization, they can submit a report to VAERS. This monitoring system makes it possible to spot any unusual side effects from vaccinations as well as identify any risks for health issues related to vaccinations. If you are ever concerned about the safety of immunizations, you can have peace of mind knowing they are constantly being monitored.9

Below are the facts and figures that show the safety and effectiveness of vaccinations:

  • According to the World Health Organization, immunizations prevent 2-3 million deaths every year from vaccine-preventable diseases.5
  • Most childhood vaccinations are 90% to 99% effective in preventing diseases.7
  • The flu vaccination can reduce the risk of flu illness by between 40% and 60%.6
  • The CDC estimates that immunizations will prevent more than 21 million hospitalizations and 732,000 deaths among children born in the last 20 years.8
  • About 85-90% of vaccine side effects are mild and not serious.9

How Pharmacists can Help

Pharmacists are also in a unique position to identify those patients who are in target groups for certain vaccinations. They may also be able to ease the fears of many patients by providing them with facts such as clinical data and by dispelling common misconceptions and myths about vaccinations; they can also stress the significant risks associated with not being vaccinated.4

Tria Health was founded on the belief that pharmacists play a vital role in the management of high-risk patients. With Tria, you have the option of receiving a one-on-one private consultation with one of Tria Health’s pharmacists over the phone. During your consultation, your pharmacist will review all your current medications, including vitamins, supplements and lifestyle habits. Your pharmacist will be able to answer any questions you may have regarding vaccinations.

Sources:

  1. Oldfield BJ, Stewart RW. Common misconceptions, advancements, and updates in pediatric vaccine administration. South Med J. 2016;109(1):38-41. doi: 10.14423/SMJ.0000000000000399.
  2. Ventola CL. Immunization in the United States: recommendations, barriers, and measures to improve compliance: part 2: adult vaccinations. P T. 2016;41(8):492-506.
  3. Temoka E. Becoming a vaccine champion: evidence-based interventions to address the challenges of vaccination. S D Med. 2013;(theme issue): 68-72.
  4. https://www.pharmacytimes.com/publications/issue/2019/january2019/adult-vaccination-rates-are-rising-but-fall-short
  5. https://www.who.int/news-room/facts-in-pictures/detail/immunization
  6. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/vaccines-work/vaccineeffect.htm#:~:text=Recent%20studies%20show%20flu%20vaccine,to%20the%20flu%20vaccine%20viruses.
  7. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/immunizations/Pages/Vaccine-Safety-The-Facts.aspx
  8. https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2014/p0424-immunization-program.html
  9. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/ensuringsafety/monitoring/vaers/index.html
  10. Reasons for Adults to be Vaccinated | CDC
  11. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/vaccine-benefits/facts.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fvaccines%2Fabout-vaccines%2Fvaccine-myths.html
  12. https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/covid-19/covid-19-vaccination-program/19-vaccine-myths-vs-facts
  13. Herd immunity and COVID-19 (coronavirus): What you need to know – Mayo Clinic

October is National Pharmacists Month

National Pharmacist Month is here! As experts in medications, pharmacists provide important guidance to patients and physicians to promote safe, effective, and affordable medication use. Tria Health believes pharmacists are an integral part of every patient’s health care team. This month we’d like to take a moment to celebrate our talented pharmacy team!

What is National Pharmacist Month?

National Pharmacist Month takes place every October. During the month, pharmacists are honored throughout the country. The goal of this month is to recognize pharmacists for the significant role they play in effective medication management, patient education and overall medication safety.

Know Your Pharmacist, Know Your Medicine

For the whole month, the slogan “Know Your Pharmacist, Know Your Medicine,” is encouraged to the community. Pharmacists provide important information on medication regimens. A patient cannot know about the medication they take without first knowing their pharmacist. This slogan is a reminder for patients to interact with their pharmacist to learn more about the medicine they take.

Important questions to ask when getting to know your pharmacist:

  • What is this medication used for?
  • How should I use this medication?
  • What should I do if I miss a dose?
  • When will the medicine begin to work?
  • How will I know if the medicine is working?
  • What side effects should I watch for?
  • Is there anything I should avoid while taking this medication?
  • How should I store this medication?

How Can Pharmacists Help You?

Pharmacists can support your health by:

  • Talking with you about your medicine. They help minimize side effects and safeguard against any possible interactions with other medications that lead to more expensive health care costs such as emergency room visits, hospitalization, etc.
  • Verifying your physician’s medication instructions.
  • Providing guidance on preventative services: More than 300,000 immunization-trained pharmacists administer vaccines, and nearly one in four adults receive their influenza vaccinations at their community pharmacy?Pharmacists can provide guidance on all vaccine-preventable diseases and which immunizations are best for you.
  • Advising you on general health topics.
  • Increasing medication adherence. When you are medication adherent and compliant, you save money, healthcare resources, and have better health outcomes. Pharmacists can help you maintain medication adherence by regularly checking in on you to see how you are doing. It is difficult to manage multiple medications, so it is great to have pharmacists there to help. To learn more about the importance of medication adherence check out: https://triahealthblog.com/2020/10/05/the-benefits-of-medication-reminders-for-non-adherent-and-non-compliant-patients/

Tria Health’s Pharmacists

Tria Health was founded on the belief that pharmacists play a vital role in the management of high-risk patients that drive the majority of health care spend. If Tria Health is currently a part of your healthcare plan, call the Tria Health Help desk today for any of your medication-related questions.

Tria Help Desk: 1.888.799.8742

Sources:

  1. http://67.222.18.91/~aphm/pharmacists-can-help/
  2. https://www.pharmacist.com/know-your-pharmacist-know-your-medicine#:~:text=The%20updated%20slogan%E2%80%94%22Know%20Your%20Pharmacist%2C%20Know%20Your%20Medicine%22%E2%80%94reflects,know%20their%20medicine%20without%20first%20knowing%20their%20pharmacist.
  3. https://caringpeopleinc.com/blog/american-pharmacists-month/#:~:text=National%20Pharmacist%E2%80%99s%20Month%20celebrates%20the%20accomplishments%20of%20pharmacists,to%20promote%20awareness%20and%20education%20on%20pharmacists%E2%80%99%20care.
  4. https://www.nclnet.org/know_your_medicine_know_your_pharmacist
  5. https://www.pharmacist.com/press-release/october-american-pharmacists-month

National Pharmacist Day

Image Source: Mohamed_hassan/pixabay.com

January 12th is National Pharmacist Day! Pharmacists do so much more than just dispense prescriptions. They have a wealth of knowledge to assist patients with safe medication use, potential drug interactions as well as preventative services and over the counter medications. Take the time this Sunday to thank your pharmacist for everything they do!

Pharmacists are Easily Accessible

Pharmacists are often available when other health care providers are not, and most often do not require you to schedule an appointment to ask questions about your healthcare needs.

Safe and Effective Medication Use

Pharmacists help ensure that medications control conditions the right way. They help minimize any side effects and safeguard against any possible interactions with other medications that lead to more expensive health care costs such as emergency room visits, hospitalization, etc.

OTCs and Supplements

Pharmacists are experts in prescription medications, supplements and over the counter medications. They can tell you about potential interactions with foods, other drugs, or dietary supplements. And they can help you pick the perfect product. With over 100,000 over-the-counter products on the market, your pharmacist is always there to lend a helping hand!1

Tria Health’s Pharmacists

Tria Health was founded on the belief that pharmacists play a vital role in the management of high-risk patients that drive the majority of health care spend. If Tria Health is currently a part of your healthcare plan, call the Tria Health Help desk today for any of your medication-related questions.

Tria Help Desk: 1.888.799.8742

Source:

  1. http://67.222.18.91/~aphm/pharmacists-can-help

Interested in CBD Oil? Talk to Your Pharmacist First

Bottle of CBD Oil
Image Source: Caleb Simpson/Unsplash

The CBD industry has been booming as of late and you might be wondering if CBD oil is right for you. Unfortunately, the popularity of CBD products is growing faster than researchers can keep up, and there are a lot of unknowns when it comes to the benefits and drawbacks.1 Currently, the FDA has not approved CBD oil as a standalone medication. While doctors can still recommend it, they cannot currently write a prescription. Before purchasing CBD oil, it’s important to talk with a pharmacist to avoid any negative medication interactions.

What is CBD Oil?

Cannabidiol is extracted from the flowers and buds of marijuana or hemp plants. It does not produce intoxication; marijuana’s “high” is caused by the chemical tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The non-intoxicating marijuana extract is being credited with helping treat a host of medical problems — everything from epileptic seizures to anxiety to inflammation to sleeplessness.2

Is CBD Oil Safe?

Last year, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel unanimously recommended approval of the CBD medication Epidolex to treat two rare forms of childhood epilepsy.3 As for CBD’s usefulness in treating other conditions, the consensus is still unclear. One current concern regarding the efficacy of CBD oil is the lack of regulation. The FDA does not currently regulate products like CBD oil which can lead to a variation in ingredients product-to-product.

CBD Oil and Medication Interactions

It’s very important to talk to a pharmacist before starting CBD oil, because it can interact with a lot of common and daily medications. CBD oil is broken down by enzymes in your liver and during that process, it can block those same enzymes from breaking down other medications. Drugs for anxiety, cholesterol, seizures, blood thinners and heart medicines can all interact negatively with CBD oil.1 While we’re not saying that you should avoid CBD oil all together, you should always speak with a doctor or pharmacist before purchasing.

Tria Health Can Answer Your Medication Questions

If Tria Health is offered through your benefits plan, you have the option of receiving a one-on-one, private consultation with one of Tria Health’s pharmacists over the phone. During your consultation, your pharmacist will review all your current medications, including vitamins and supplements. If you’re interested in exploring CBD Oil, Tria’s pharmacist will be able to provide you with recommendations.

Sources:

  1. https://www.wbir.com/article/news/health/pharmacists-cbd-may-interfere-with-some-daily-medications/51-142c8c3e-0fd7-43c8-b6e8-6fb68a3d5e97
  2. https://www.webmd.com/pain-management/news/20180507/cbd-oil-all-the-rage-but-is-it-safe-effective#1
  3. https://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm611046.htm

Pharmacists and Vaccinations: A Perfect Match

Syringe surrounded by three bottles
Image Source: qimono/pixabay.com

The CDC considers vaccinations to be one of the top 10 public health achievements of the 20th century.1-3 Thanks to vaccines, the incidence, morbidity, mortality, and prevalence of vaccine-preventable diseases have considerably diminished since vaccinations became available. Unfortunately, while vaccines are considered safe and effective in preventing illness, an estimated 40,000 to 50,000 US adults die from vaccine-preventable diseases every year.4-5 In order to improve the overall vaccination rate, it’s important we utilize all our resources. Pharmacists are easily accessible and can be instrumental in providing patients with pertinent information to help them make informed choices regarding immunizations.

Why Vaccines are Important

There are two main benefits for vaccination:

  1. You can help lower your chance of getting certain disease
    • Hepatitis B vaccine lowers your risk of liver cancer.
    • HPV vaccine lowers your risk of cervical cancer.
    • Flu vaccine lowers your risk of flu-related heart attacks or other flu-related complications from existing health conditions like diabetes and chronic lung disease.
  2. You can lower your chance of spreading disease.
    • Some people in your family or community may not be able to get certain vaccines due to their age or health condition. They rely on you to help prevent the spread of disease.
    • Infants, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems (like those undergoing cancer treatment) are especially vulnerable to infectious disease.

Vaccines are both effective and safe. They go through years of testing before the FDA licenses them for use. Both the CDC and FDA continue to track the safety of all licensed vaccines.6

Recommended Immunization Schedules

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends the following vaccination schedules:

https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/

How Pharmacists can Help

Pharmacists are also in a unique position to identify those patients who are in target groups for certain vaccinations. They may also be able to ease the fears of many patients by providing them with facts such as clinical data and by dispelling common misconceptions and myths about vaccinations; they can also stress the significant risks associated with not being vaccinated.7

Tria Health was founded on the belief that pharmacists play a vital role in the management of high-risk patients. With Tria, you have the option of receiving a one-on-one private consultation with one of Tria Health’s pharmacists over the phone. During your consultation, your pharmacist will review all your current medications, including vitamins, supplements and lifestyle habits. Your pharmacist will be able to answer any questions you may have regarding vaccinations.

Sources:

  1. Oldfield BJ, Stewart RW. Common misconceptions, advancements, and updates in pediatric vaccine administration. South Med J. 2016;109(1):38-41. doi: 10.14423/SMJ.0000000000000399.
  2. Ventola CL. Immunization in the United States: recommendations, barriers, and measures to improve compliance: part 2: adult vaccinations. P T. 2016;41(8):492-506.
  3. Temoka E. Becoming a vaccine champion: evidence-based interventions to address the challenges of vaccination. S D Med. 2013;(theme issue): 68-72.
  4. Bach AT, Goad JA. The role of community pharmacy-based vaccination in the USA: current practice and future directions. Integr Pharm Res Pract. 2015;4:67-77. doi: 10.2147/IPRP.S63822.
  5. Poland GA, Schaffner W, Hopkins RH Jr, US Department of Health & Human Services. Immunization guidelines in the United States: new vaccines and new recommendations for children, adolescents, and adults. Vaccine. 2013;31(42):4689-4693. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2013.03.031.
  6. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/adults/reasons-to-vaccinate.html
  7. https://www.pharmacytimes.com/publications/issue/2019/january2019/adult-vaccination-rates-are-rising-but-fall-short