The National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance in Australia has published a report indicating that a majority of surveyed pharmacists have been electronically recording vaccinations on the Australian Immunisation Register.
This is the first study of its kind, providing evidence of pharmacists' practices for providing immunisation services; recording and reporting of vaccinations to AIR; and enablers of and barriers to providing immunisation services, including recording and reporting of vaccinations to AIR.
Conducted between 5 June and 13 July last year, the study targeted all community pharmacists who currently administer vaccinations. 243 pharmacists participated.
71% of respondents reported data on vaccination encounters to AIR via automated uploads from pharmacy software, while 41% manually entered data on the AIR website; 13.5% used both methods.
The report estimates that 82% of vaccinations administered by the 121 pharmacies for which respondents reported data (i.e., 72,045 of 87,665 vaccinations administered) were reported to AIR. The report qualifies this by stating that the true completeness of pharmacist vaccination reporting may be underestimated due to potential selection biases.
For example, respondents who provided data on the number of vaccines administered may have had a higher use of electronic methods of recording data on vaccination encounters and automated reporting to AIR via software compared with non-respondents and community pharmacies in general.
Respondents indicated that the ability to use automated reporting of vaccination encounters directly from pharmacy software to AIR was the most important factor that enabled reporting to AIR.
The report mentioned that difficulty accessing and using the AIR site was a substantial barrier to reporting. Many respondents indicated that registering to access AIR was a "long and complicated process with a heavy administrative burden and inadequate support to resolve problems".
Additionally, the report suggested that pharmacists' reporting of vaccination encounter data to AIR is "likely to be improved through increased adoption of electronic methods of recording and automated reporting processes" and that "use of software that automatically integrates with AIR is likely to improve both the quantity and quality of data reported to AIR".
THE LARGER CONTEXT
The AIR records vaccines given to all people in Australia. This includes COVID-19 vaccines given under the National Immunisation Program (NIP), and privately given vaccines, such as for seasonal influenza or travel.
According to the Department of Health, these reports to the AIR create a "complete and reliable dataset and is able to monitor immunisation coverage and administration" and "also means that individuals have a complete record of their vaccinations".
The reporting of NIP-funded vaccinations became mandatory on 1 July.
Since the first jurisdictional pharmacist-administered vaccination programme in 2014 in Australia, all jurisdictions now allow pharmacists to administer certain vaccines