Free flu shots, a bigger role in health care: Survey shows support for pharmacists

A survey commissioned by pharmacists has found that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians want the people dispensing pills in their drugstores to take on more responsibility.
Pharmacists in Newfoundland and Labrador can now assess and prescribe for 29 different minor ailments. (iStock)

A survey commissioned by pharmacists has found that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians want the people dispensing pills in their drugstores to take on more responsibility.

"We wanted to gauge awareness of the public in Newfoundland and Labrador on what services pharmacists can now provide to see if they're aware," said Glenda Power, executive director of the Pharmacists Association of Newfoundland and Labrador.

"A lot of the things have been changing over the last few years."

The study was paid for by the Canadian Pharmacists Association and conducted by Abacus Data.

Trusting of pharmacists

Power said the findings showed that 97 per cent of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have a positive impression of their pharmacist.

"What we're seeing is that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are generally aware of what pharmacists can provide, are very supportive of expanded scope," she said.  

The study also asked if residents would support allocating government money in it's health care budget for pharmacists to provide flu shots and prescribe for minor ailments.

Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are generally … very supportive of expanded scope.- Glenda Power, PANL executive director

"When asked how much would they trust pharmacists to give a flu vaccine, the Newfoundland respondents rated pharmacists 20 per cent higher in the trust factor than the rest of Canada," said Power. 

"And, overwhelmingly, 94 per cent said 'hey Premier Ball, we should be able to go to a pharmacy and get our flu shot without paying.'"

Flu shots in pharmacies not covered

She said currently, residents not covered by the Newfoundland and Labrador Prescription Drug Program have to pay a fee for a flu shot in a pharmacy. That's not the case in a clinic or doctor's office.

Power said PANL is sending a copy of the survey to the premier and she thinks the province would be open to using pharmacists to provide expanded health care services, to cut costs.

Pharmacists can now assess and prescribe for 29 different minor ailments, but Power said the list could be expanded, and pharmacists could also give vaccines and order lab tests for blood work.

With files from the St. John's Morning Show