In an education session presented during APhA2022 titled "Know the Facts: Annual Immunization Update," noted immunization authorities Stephan Foster, PharmD, FAPhA, and Jeffery Goad, PharmD, MPH, described the latest regulatory updates impacting immunization delivery by pharmacists and other healthcare professionals. The presenters acknowledged the vital role of pharmacists in COVID-19 vaccine delivery, noting that the pandemic perpetuated a backlog in pediatric and adult vaccination.

Drs. Foster and Goad identified recent important changes to immunization schedules for adults and children in the United States, including vaccines programs centered on hepatitis B, herpes zoster, syncytial virus vaccine (RSV), and COVID-19. "Pharmacists are doing over 77% of all of the covid vaccines in the country," Dr. Foster said. "We know how busy you are, and you are to be truly commended for what's going on out there."

The COVID pandemic, Dr. Foster noted, has caused a huge dip in pediatric and adult vaccination rates. "We are way behind in pediatric vaccines. Even though the rates are coming back, they are not what they were before, and we have a lot of catch up to do."

Pharmacists are likely to become even busier, moving forward. There are new vaccines on the horizon, Dr Foster noted. "For example, one is an RSV for adults given at the same time as flu vaccine."

Acknowledging that the pandemic has caused a paucity of influenza cases, Dr. Foster said that we have had a lot more flu cases this year than last year, primarily the H3N2 strain. "Influenza has proven pretty hardy; it's coming back," said Dr. Goad, associate dean of academic affairs, Chapman University School of Pharmacy, Irvine, California. "The hardest part is convincing people to get a flu shot", added Dr Foster.

The traditional ACIP recommendations for hepatitis B vaccine, said Dr. Foster, is that all adults aged 19 through 59 years plus adults aged 60 years and older with risk factors should receive the hepatitis B vaccine. Additionally, in November 2021, the ACIP voted to allow practitioners to give giving the hepatitis B vaccine to individuals aged 60 years and older without risk factors.

On the herpes zoster front, Dr. Goad, currently a consultant and CAPT (Ret), U.S.P.H.S., noted that as of January 21, 2022, the CDC recommends "two doses of recombinant zoster vaccine [Shingrix] are recommended for adults aged >19 years who are or will be immunodeficient or immunosuppressed due to disease or therapy for the prevention of herpes zoster and its complications."

The presenters highlighted other recent vaccine initiatives, including Ticovac (tickborne encephalitis); Jynneous (orthopoxviruses); an ebola vaccine; an RSV vaccine; Vaxchora (cholera); Priorix (measles/mumps/rubella); and Dengvaxia (Dengue).
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