Pharmacists and Vaccinations: A Perfect Match

Syringe surrounded by three bottles
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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

Ask a Pharmacist – Migraine Edition

Pharmacist surrounded by pills with text that reads Ask a Pharmacist
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At Tria Health, our pharmacists are here for you! They are always happy to answer any of your medication-related questions. For September, we’ve compiled some of our more popular migraine questions, along with our pharmacists’ answers.

What are the most common migraine triggers?

  • Emotional Stress
  • Not Eating
  • Sleep Disturbances
  • Obesity
  • Some foods such as: wine, aspartame, and monosodium glutamate (MSGs)
  • Certain medications such as nitrates (used for chest pain)
  • Unmodifiable triggers like menstruation, weather changes, neck pain, certain odors or visual stimuli

What can worsen migraines?

Rapid head movements like sneezing or turning you head away quickly, bright lights, loud sounds, straining at stool, and physical exertion can all worsen migraines.

How do I cope with my migraine triggers?

As most triggers cannot be completely avoided, coping with known triggers is an important strategy in migraine relief. A staggering 80% of people with migraines say emotional stress is a trigger, but no one is immune to it. Check these tips out for how to manage your stress:

  • Meditate for 15 Minutes
  • Take a Break & Breathe Deeply
  • Laugh out Loud
  • Listen to Music
  • Get Moving
  • Keep a Journal

I don’t want to take a medicine, what can I do instead?

  • Relaxation Training
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Physical therapy can be helpful for patients who have muscle tension leading up to a migraine
  • There is no good clinical data to recommend hypnosis, acupuncture, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), or chiropractic or osteopathic care, but some people find these methods appealing.

Dealing with migraines can have a definite impact on your lifestyle.  Having a better understanding of what triggers migraines and how to cope can help.

If you have any additional questions regarding your medications, reach out to the

Tria Health Help Desk: 1.888.799.8742

Ask a Pharmacist

Pharmacist surrounded by pills with text that reads Ask a Pharmacist
Image Source: iStock.com/macrovector

At Tria Health, our pharmacists are here for you! They are always happy to answer any of your medication-related questions. For August, we’ve compiled some of our more popular questions, along with our pharmacists’ answers.

Is it possible for my medication to lose its effectiveness over time?

Yes. Medications may lose potency and effectiveness over time. Unless the bottle suggests otherwise, always consider the expiration date of a prescription medication one year following the fill date. If you filled a prescription on July 1st 2017 it should be considered expired and a new prescription will be necessary on July 1st 2018.

Do generic drugs work just as well as the brand name versions?

Yes. Generic medications contain the same active medicine and are safe and effective alternatives to brand name products. In order to receive F.D.A approval, generic medications must prove that they are equivalent to the brand name medication.

Is it safe to take slightly expired medication?

Taking a medication that is slightly expired is unlikely to cause harm, but it is possible that it may not work as well and in general it is best to acquire a new prescription if your medication is expired.

How can you tell if a medication is expired?

If the medication was filled more than 12 months ago or the listed expiration date on the bottle has passed consider the medication as expired.  In addition, if the appearance of the medication has changed this may be an indication of an expired product. If you have an injectable solution or oral suspension that has changed colors or consistency this might indicate a new prescription is needed.

 

If you have any additional questions regarding your medications,

reach out to the Tria Health Help Desk: 1.888.799.8742

Ask a Pharmacist – Allergy Edition

Pharmacist surrounded by pills with text that reads Ask a Pharmacist
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Allergy season is here! To help you out, we’d like to share with you some frequently asked questions and the pharmacists’ answers.

 

How can I tell if I have allergies or just a common cold?

Symptom Cold Allergy
Cough Usually Sometimes
General aches and pains Sometimes Never
Fatigue and weakness Sometimes Sometimes
Itchy eyes Rarely Usually
Sneezing Usually Usually
Sore Throat Usually Rarely
Runny Nose Usually Usually
Stuffy Nose Usually Usually
Fever Sometimes Never

How do steroid nasal sprays work?

Steroid nasal sprays are an effective treatment for most allergy symptoms.  Steroid nasal sprays reduce the allergic response of the cell types that induce allergies, mainly mast cells and eosinophils.   This results in a reduction of runny nose, postnasal drip, nasal congestion, sneezing, and itching.

Do allergy shots work?

Allergy shots are injections you receive at regular intervals over a period of 3-5 years to reduce allergy attacks.  Each allergy shot contains a tiny amount of the substance that trigger your allergic reactions, called allergens.  By adjusting the dose and your exposure to allergens, your immune system builds up tolerance to the allergen and your symptoms diminish over time.

 Can you take allergy pills and nasal spray together?

Yes.  For patients with severe allergy symptoms who cannot achieve symptom resolution with either one by itself, you can combine allergy pills and nasal sprays.  In general, steroid nasal sprays are the single most effective treatment for allergy symptoms, however, if you continue to experience troublesome symptoms with consistent use of a steroid spray you can add an over the counter antihistamine such as generic Claritin (loratadine), generic Zyrtec (cetirizine), or generic Allegra (fexofenadine).

 

Have any other questions?

Call the Tria Health Help Desk:

1.888.799.8742

Ask a Pharmacist

Pharmacist surrounded by pills with text that reads Ask a Pharmacist
Image Source: iStock.com/macrovector

Thanks to the Tria Health Help Desk, patients may ask pharmacists any medication-related questions. We’d like to share with you some frequently asked questions and the pharmacists’ answers

Question: Is it OK to take leftover antibiotics to treat a current infection?

Answer: No! The antibiotic might not treat the type infection that you have and might not be the full course of therapy required. Additionally, taking antibiotics inappropriately may also cause antibiotic resistance, making it harder to treat future infections.

Question: How do I know what kind of vitamins I should take?

Answer: It would depend on your diet, lifestyle, and other medical conditions. Taking a multivitamin is a great place to start. If you have concerns about being vitamin deficient, talk with your doctor about checking certain vitamin levels.

Question: Which over-the-counter allergy products are safe to use during pregnancy?

Answer: Both Zyrtec and Claritin are safe to use during pregnancy. Make sure these products do not carry any other active ingredients, like pseudoephedrine. Talk with your doctor or your Tria pharmacist before starting any over the counter allergy product.

Question: I recently started a new medication and have had a stomach ache ever since. Am I allergic to the drug?

Answer: Stomach aches are not a sign or symptom of a medication allergy. It is usually a side effect of the drug. Try to take the medication with food to help avoid stomach upset.

 

Do YOU have a question for our pharmacists?

Enroll with Tria Health and schedule your appointment today!

Call 1.888.799.8742 or visit www.triahealth.com/enroll