The Role of the Pharmacist in Overcoming Vaccine Hesitancy

Yvette C. Terrie, BS Pharm, RPh


US Pharmacist. 2021;46(4):28-31. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Although vaccines are considered to be one of the most cost-effective means of preventing illness and death from certain diseases, some individuals are still reluctant to obtain vaccines recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. As frontline healthcare providers, pharmacists can act as patient educators and vaccine administrators and address vaccine hesitancy. By implementing effective communication strategies, pharmacists can inform patients about the safety and efficacy of available vaccines, address their concerns and fears, and dispel common myths and misconceptions, allowing patients to make informed decisions.


According to the World Health Organization (WHO), vaccination has substantially decreased the burden of certain infectious diseases, and the CDC has declared vaccinations to be one of the top 10 public-health achievements of the 20th century.[1–4] The CDC also notes that vaccines are responsible for preventing nearly 2.5 million deaths annually. The incidence, prevalence, morbidity, and mortality associated with vaccine-preventable diseases have considerably diminished since vaccinations became available.[3,4]

Despite the fact that vaccines are considered to be a safe, cost-effective, and efficient means of preventing illness, disability, and death from certain infectious diseases, an estimated 40,000 to 50,000 adults die annually in United States from vaccine-preventable diseases.[5–8] According to the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, vaccine-preventable diseases kill more Americans annually than either breast cancer, HIV/AIDS, or traffic accidents.[9] Although they are not 100% effective, vaccinations offer vital protection against certain illnesses and potentially serious disease-related complications.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) annually reviews and continually updates vaccination standards, vaccine schedules, and recommended immunizations in the U.S. The ACIP vaccination recommendations are based primarily on factors such as age, health status, immunization history, lifestyle, occupation, and whether an individual is immunocompromised or planning to travel.[10,11] Despite the existence of efficacious vaccines, the burden of vaccine-preventable diseases is still an issue, and the potential health benefits of pediatric, adolescent, and adult vaccination are not being achieved due to suboptimal vaccine-coverage rates.[12]

Examples of available vaccines for vaccine-preventable diseases can be found in Table 1.[13]