Beautifying the bathroom
IRVING, Texas — Kimberly-Clark is making toilet paper covers fashionable with new Cottonelle toilet paper roll covers. The toilet paper roll covers, which are available online at RespectTheRoll.com and through Cottonelle’s Facebook page, have been produced in three colorful designs and have been a hit with consumers.
At the height of website traffic, more than 72 requests per minute have been recorded for the covers. Through the Facebook page, Kimberly-Clark is giving away 25,000 additional roll covers. Roll covers will be on sale online for $4 each starting Nov. 1.
Vaccinations a step in expanding pharmacist role
Along with major paradigm shifts in how people communicate, read and do business, the way they receive healthcare services is changing dramatically, and retail pharmacies are at the front line.
In no area is this more true than vaccinations. According to a report released in June by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the largest percentage of adults (39.8%) received their flu vaccinations during the 2010-2011 influenza season at physicians’ offices, but a growing number of people are opting to receive them at retail pharmacies instead. In the 1998-1999 season, only 5% got their vaccinations at pharmacies. But by the 2010-2011 season, the rate had reached 18.4%.
This dramatic rise is due largely to the ability of pharmacists in all 50 states and the District of Columbia to administer vaccinations, with Maine as the last state to join the list in 2009. Retail pharmacy chains have responded by rolling out pharmacist-administered flu vaccinations on a grand scale, with Walgreens, Rite Aid and CVS now offering them at all of their stores, in addition to regional chains.
Another major catalyst was the H1N1 influenza pandemic. “Community pharmacy worked very closely with the federal government at that time and with the CDC,” National Association of Chain Drug Stores Foundation president Edith Rosato told Drug Store News, calling retail pharmacies’ collaboration with the government a “watershed event.” “There was so much pressure to ensure that patients would be able to get the vaccine, so the government reached out to community pharmacy and used us as a distribution point.”
A recent study published in the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice called pharmacists “an integral part of the nation’s ‘first line resource’ for health and wellness, and can extend the reach for public health initiatives.” NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson responded to the report by saying it drove home the message that pharmacists play a critical role in the healthcare delivery system.
In many ways, it would seem natural that pharmacies have become a major destination for flu vaccinations. Patients can walk in, pay a small fee and receive the vaccination instead of having to make an appointment, as they would have to at a doctor’s office. In addition, pharmacy retailers are well positioned to offer vaccinations thanks to their role as shopping destinations. Rite Aid, for example, offers customers who receive vaccinations at its stores coupon books with more than $100 in savings, while members of the retailer’s Wellness+ loyalty card program receive 25 reward points. In September, Winn-Dixie offered Customer Reward Card members who received its vaccinations a discount on shot and flu-prevention groceries — fruit, orange juice, hand sanitizer, wipes and tissues — worth $12.71.
But pharmacists’ clinical roles look likely to increase even further. NACDS currently is lobbying state governments to allow vaccination of younger children, as well as lobbying for the ability to provide other vaccinations, including shingles, hepatitis A and B, measles-mumps- rubella and travel vaccines. Many states already allow pharmacists to administer shingles vaccines, while Seattle-based Bartell Drugs has taken advantage of regulations in Washington state that allow pharmacists working under physicians’ supervision to administer travel vaccinations.
Child vaccinations up despite fears
At the beginning of the year, a major global controversy was settled when it turned out that a study published in The Lancet in 1998 linking the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine to autism in children turned out to be a whopper of a fraud.
But despite the exposure of the study’s author — and outbreaks of preventable diseases among children in the United States and Europe, thanks to parents who opted to have their kids vaccinated — it appears that sowing fear of childhood vaccines still appears to have some currency.
Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann decided to try and spend a bit of that currency in a debate last month when she criticized Texas Gov. Rick Perry for mandating the human papillomavirus vaccine for girls in his state, later claiming that a woman had approached her and said the vaccine caused her daughter to develop mental retardation. In contrast with the millions who bought Wakefield’s fraudulent research, Bachmann drew ridicule from voices on the left and the right. Merck, which makes Gardasil (human papillomavirus quadrivalent [types 6, 11, 16 and 18] vaccine, recombinant), responded by saying that the vaccine’s safety and efficacy were supported by clinical trials. Meanwhile, American Academy of Pediatrics president O. Marion Burton said Bachmann’s statement was “false” and had “absolutely no scientific validity.”
Meanwhile, vaccinations of children against a wide range of diseases have risen dramatically in recent years. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “2010 National Immunization Survey,” of the 17,000 households that participated, immunizations of children born between 2007 and 2009 against measles, mumps, rubella, rotavirus, hepatitis A, pneumococcal disease and Haemophilus influenzae type B were at 90% or more. In addition, vaccinations against polio, chickenpox and hepatitis B remained at or above 90%.
Also, immunization rates did not differ between racial and ethnic groups for most vaccines, and thanks to recent increases in coverage among minority children, levels for most vaccines in other racial and ethnic groups were similar to or higher than those among white children, though large disparities between racial and ethnic groups have remained with other health services.
Some holes in vaccination rates have nevertheless persisted. According to research by the CDC, 115 people ages 18 years and younger died from influenza-related causes between September 2010 and August 2011. According to the research, information about influenza vaccination was available for 74 of those children ages 6 months and older; 17 (23%) received influenza vaccine in the appropriate number of doses at least 14 days before illness onset. The CDC recommends that everybody ages 6 months and older be vaccinated against the flu, a recommendation that has been in place since 2008.