It is a new year and 2019 has brought some exciting changes to the immunization services that we are now able to offer here at Sandul’s Pharmacy! Many of you are probably familiar with the availability of and have possibly been recipients of the annual influenza vaccination we offer in collaboration with Alberta Health. Some of you may have benefited from other injection services that we offer, whether it be travel vaccinations for the prevention of typhoid, hepatitis, or otherwise, or the injection of other medications prescribed by your doctor.

Many of these injection services are covered under Alberta Health; however, some of these services, such as travel vaccinations, must be paid privately. Up until recently, the influenza vaccine was the only vaccine supplied directly to pharmacies in Alberta as part of the public health immunization program, but as of January 1, 2019, the Government of Alberta has provided us with supplies to provide pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (known as Pneumovax) to individuals aged 65 and up, as wells diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis vaccinations (known as dTap) to pregnant women. Previously, pharmacies had to refer patients eligible for such publicly funded vaccinations to a local public health clinic.

What is the dTap vaccine and why is it recommended during each pregnancy?

This vaccine provides protection against three different infections: diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (also known as “whooping cough”). While these are distinct illnesses, the consequences of all can be severe (may include seizures, paralysis, or respiratory problems) and even fatal. Whooping cough is of special concern to infants due to the fact that infection can cause severe coughing blocking the ability to eat, drink, and even breathe. Vaccination during pregnancy allows the mother’s body to develop antibodies and transfer them directly to the fetus, so that the baby is born with some protection against this infection until they are able to receive the vaccine themselves at 2 months of age.1,2

I am pregnant and want to get the dTap vaccine. When can I get it?

The optimal time to schedule your vaccination is between 27 and 32 weeks gestation, for the best antibody transfer to the fetus; however, it may be appropriate to give the vaccine earlier (for example if you will be travelling and unable to return for vaccination at a later date). Contact the team at Sandul’s to discuss your needs and book an appointment to administer the vaccine.2

What is pneumonia and why should I be concerned about it?

Pneumonia can be caused by a variety of viral or bacterial infections and can cause symptoms including fever, chills, coughing, and chest pain. In severe cases, hospitalization is required. Having other health conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, or cancer can increase your risk of acquiring pneumonia, as well as your chances of having complications related to pneumonia.3

I have been told that I should get vaccinated against pneumonia, but I am not yet 65. Can you provide this vaccination to me for free?

Unfortunately, at this time we are only able to provide publicly funded Pneumovax to individuals 65 years and up; however, if you are under 65 and considered medically at risk of invasive pneumococcal disease, you may be eligible to have this vaccine administered via your local public health unit. Furthermore, there is actually a second type of pneumococcal vaccine available, called pneumococcal 13-valent conjugate (known as Prevnar 13), that may be highly recommended for you. This vaccine is available for certain at risk individuals through the public health unit, or for a fee at the pharmacy. Our team at Sandul’s will be happy to help you navigate through this very confusing topic!4

How do I know what vaccinations I need?

Your pharmacists, doctor, or public health nurses can help identify what vaccinations you require. Contact our team at Sandul’s Pharmacy if you have any questions about your immunization needs.

Do I have to pay for injections?

It depends on the vaccine or medication being administered. In general, vaccinations such as certain influenza and pneumonia vaccines, as well as the dTap vaccine for pregnant women are covered by Alberta Health. Certain prescription medications can be injected by a pharmacist at no charge, but the patient may be responsible for the cost of the medication itself depending on their insurance. Travel vaccinations and the injection of other drugs or vaccines (such as the shingles vaccine) that are not eligible for provincial funding for administration require a patient fee for the injection service, and the vaccine/medication cost will depend on insurance coverage for the individual. Our team at Sandul’s Pharmacy can provide you with more information about costs and coverage.

 

References

  1. Diphtheria, Tetanus, Acellular Pertussis (Whooping Cough) (dTap) Vaccine [Internet]. [cited 2019 Jan 27]. Available from: https://myhealth.alberta.ca/Alberta/Pages/immunization-diphtheria-tetanus-acellular-pertussis.aspx
  2. Pertussis Immunization Program for Pregnant Women [Internet]. [cited 2019 Jan 27]. Available from: https://open.alberta.ca/dataset/c7b46ac0-d57b-4df8-a54e-858a67c24563/resource/97998c69-ef4f-4008-a21d-1cfe767a21f3/download/aip-ps-pertussis-pregnancy-policy.pdf
  3. Pneumonia – Topic Overview [Internet]. [cited 2019 Jan 27]. Available from: https://myhealth.alberta.ca:443/Health/Pages/conditions.aspx?hwid=hw63868
  4. Pneumococcal Polysaccharide 23-Valent Immunization Program [Internet]. [cited 2019 Jan 27]. Available from: https://open.alberta.ca/dataset/e52fe302-e991-4b08-871d-f0994d72a9af/resource/0d8b01d2-b295-486f-b818-0890f8702c81/download/aip-ps-pneumo-p-policy.pdf