Supporting Innovation in Pharmacy for a Healthier Canada

Untapped potential of travel meds

BeachMay 2017 - Pharmacists could be playing a much bigger role in providing vaccinations and other healthcare services for travellers, suggest the latest results of a research study conducted by 2015 Innovation Fund grant recipient Sherilyn Houle of the University of Waterloo’s School of Pharmacy. The study examined clinical effectiveness and patient satisfaction levels at a pharmacist-managed independent travel health clinic in Alberta. The results showed that of the 270 vaccinations recommended to travellers by pharmacists, 80% were accepted. (Rabies was most commonly declined due to high cost and low perceived risk.) The vast majority (92%) of patients also reported being satisfied or very satisfied with the pre-travel care provided.

Houle says the literature shows that Canadian travellers, including immigrants to Canada returning to their country of origin, often received sub-optimal pre-travel health care. This included inappropriate prescribing of vaccines and oral antimicrobials, as well as inadequate non-pharmacologic advice. “This really is a growing opportunity for pharmacists to provide [further] vaccination services,” says Houle, adding that pharmacists have the accessibility, public trust and expertise in drug therapy.

On the other hand, less than half of patients recalled that the care provided was through a pharmacist. “We have some room for improvement there for sure,” added Houle.