Improving Vaccine Accessibility
Christina DiMattia, director of clinical services at Genoa Healthcare, is passionate about providing better, more accessible care to consumers.
That’s why five years ago, DiMattia championed the kick-off of Genoa’s Immunization Program – a service that allows consumers to get their recommended vaccinations in a more accessible way: right at their pharmacy.
“As pharmacists, we are able to offer an additional service that doesn’t just support our consumers’ health, but also their communities and the broader healthcare system,” said DiMattia. “Immunizations help prevent unnecessary medical visits and hospitalizations, which is important for any population, but especially critical in the population we serve.” Many of Genoa consumers experience transient housing situations and live with severe behavioral health and other complex health conditions.
The program has grown significantly since its first year, when only flu vaccines were offered. Today, Genoa pharmacies offer 11 additional recommended vaccines, including pneumococcal, tetanus, and zoster to name a few. Over the past year, pharmacists administered over 30,000 vaccinations.
Access to immunizations has taken on even greater importance during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Efforts to reduce transmission of COVID-19, such as stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders, have led to decreased use of routine preventive medical services, including immunizations services,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The CDC maintains that vaccines are more important than ever because they provide protection and minimize the number of medical visits that cause further strain on the health care system.
Genoa’s program makes it easy for consumers to get their recommended vaccinations because they don’t need to make a special trip to get them if they are already picking up medications at the pharmacy or visiting their health care provider at the clinic. “This is a significant opportunity for us to provide them with a vaccine they might not have received otherwise,” said DiMattia.
A recent study found that consumers visit their pharmacy twice as often as their doctor, highlighting pharmacists as accessible front-line health care professionals who have frequent opportunities to interact with the public.
“We look to support our consumers in any way we can,” said DiMattia. “Genoa provides so much more than just medications. Our Immunization Program allows us to expand on the tools we have available to help support our consumers and improve their access to quality care.”