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

Medication Compliance – What’s the Problem?

Pills in plastic case
Image Source: Simon van der Koelen/Unsplash

Medication non-compliance is the failure to take a medication according to the prescribed directions. Although medications are effective in combating disease, approximately 50% of patients do not take their medications as prescribed. Poor adherence to medication leads to increased morbidity and death and is estimated to incur costs of approximately $100 billion per year.1 While following instructions for your medications may seem simple, there are a lot of different factors that lead to medication compliance.

What Causes Non-Compliance?

Non-compliance factors can be broken down into three categories: Patient-related, physician-related and health system/team building-related.

Patient-Related Factors:

While there are several patient-related factors, the main contributor to medication non-compliance is inadequate health literacy. In the United States alone, an estimated 90 million adults have inadequate health literacy.1 Inadequate health literacy can lead to a lack of understanding their condition or medication instructions. In order to improve compliance, understanding the ‘why’ behind why patients don’t take medications correctly and providing the appropriate education is an absolute necessity. These reasons are very individualized and the more a patient understands their condition and how to control it, the more likely they are to feel impowered and motivated to manage their disease and adhere to their medications.

Physician-Related Factors:

Physicians can often unintentionally lead to medication nonadherence by prescribing complex drug regimens, prescribing medications that may be unaffordable to the patient, or inadequately explaining possible side-effects a patient may experience. A solution to this is incorporating a pharmacist into the care team to provide medication education and spending more time with the patient when developing their care plan.

Health System/Team Building-Related Factors:

Unfortunately, due to fragmented health systems, physicians do not have easy access to information from a patient’s numerous care providers. This can cause issues when developing an effect care strategy and communicating with a patient. Another factor in health systems that lead to non-compliance are drug costs, which can greatly limit a patient’s access to care. Increased implementation of electronic medical records and electronic prescribing has the potential to increase adherence by identifying patients at risk of nonadherence and targeting them for intervention. Another solution can be the incorporation of a medication therapy management service, which can help identify instances of nonadherence and possible substitutions for costly medications.

How Does Tria Health Help Prevent Non-Compliance?

Tria Health is offered through your benefits plan. 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 identify any medication interactions, affordable substitutions and answer any other medication-related questions you may have. At the end of your consultation, you’ll receive a customized care plan that Tria will assist in coordinating with any of your physicians.

Source:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3068890/

National Wear Red Day

Image Source: https://www.goredforwomen.org

National Wear Red Day is February 1st. Go Red for Women is the American Heart Association’s national movement that advocates for more research and swifter action for women’s heart health. The movement also challenges people to know their risk for heart disease and act to reduce their personal risk. Heart disease and stroke cause 1 in 3 deaths among women each year, killing approximately one woman every 80 seconds.  Fortunately, we can change that because 80 percent of cardiac and stroke events may be prevented with education and action.

What are the Signs and Symptoms?1

While there are many similarities in the symptoms of heart disease in men and women, there are even more differences. Listed below are the signs and symptoms, specific to women, that are important to watch out for:

Heart Attack Symptoms:

  1. Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest. It lasts more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back.
  2. Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  3. Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
  4. Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
  5. As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.

Stroke Symptoms:

  1. Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  2. Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  3. Sudden trouble seeing or blurred vision in one or both eyes
  4. Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  5. Sudden severe headache with no known cause

Take Steps to Reduce Your Risk2

Not only can you wear red to raise awareness but you can also take steps to reduce your own risk. The American Heart Association has developed an online tool called My Life Check. My Life Check allows you to find out your heart score and see if you’re at risk based on Life’s Simple 7:

  1. Managing your blood pressure
  2. Control your cholesterol
  3. Reduce your blood sugar
  4. Get active
  5. Eat better
  6. Lose weight
  7. Stop smoking

Find out Your Heart Score

Tria Health Helps Control Heart Disease

Tria Health offers Chronic Condition Management through our Pharmacy Advocate Program. Heart Disease and stroke are two of the many chronic conditions that Tria Health targets. Clinical Pharmacists provide one-on-one telephonic counseling for members and act as their personal advocate to help them navigate through the health care system. Through reviewing a member’s medications and lifestyle habits, Tria Pharmacists can make recommendations that will help control their chronic conditions and help them feel better!

Questions?

Call the Tria Health Help Desk at 1.888.799.8742

Sources:

  1. https://www.goredforwomen.org/en/about-heart-disease-in-women/signs-and-symptoms-in-women
  2. https://www.goredforwomen.org/en/know-your-risk/risk-factors

Getting Through Winter: How to Survive SAD

Man walking in the snow
Image Source: Alice Donovan Rouse/Unsplash

With winter weather sweeping across the country, many individuals are experiencing winter-onset depression also known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). While the cause of SAD is not known, brain chemicals that affect your mood can change according to the amount of light you get each day.1 While some may be more susceptible to SAD than others, there are ways of preventing and managing SAD until you get through the season.

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that happens during a change of seasons, usually occurring during autumn and winter months when there is less sunlight. Symptoms usually go away in late spring or early summer.1

How is SAD Treated?

There are four primary treatment methods for SAD: Light therapy, medications, psychotherapy, and mind-body connection techniques.2

  • Light Therapy: A method that mimics natural outdoor light using a special light box with the goal of changing the brain chemicals linked to mood. It typically takes a few days to a few weeks before becoming effective. Your doctor will be able to help determine if this is the best option for you and identify which product would be the most effective.
  • Medications: Individuals with depression are more susceptible to SAD, making antidepressant treatment a good option. 
  • Psychotherapy: Psychotherapy, also called talk therapy, is another option to treat SAD. Therapy can help you learn coping mechanisms to manage your stress and changing your negative thoughts and behaviors.
  • Mind-Body Connection: This includes a variety of techniques such as meditation, guided imagery and music or art therapy.

How Can Tria Health Help?

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 medication treatments for SAD, Tria’s pharmacist will be able to provide you with recommendations and coordinate with your doctor(s).

Questions?

Call the Tria Health Help Desk at 1.888.799.8742

Sources:

  1. https://www.drugs.com/cg/seasonal-affective-disorder.html
  2. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20364722

National Pharmacist Day

Pharmacist next to two pill bottles
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 Saturday 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