Drew Register, a third year pharmacy student from Monroe, serves as the current APhA-ASP chapter president in ULM’s School of Pharmacy. One of the organization’s goals is to provide an opportunity to emphasize the value of immunizations for people of all ages, and to focus on encouraging all people to protect their health by being immunized against infectious diseases.
"Over the last several years, numerous vaccine-preventable diseases have begun resurfacing all across the country,” said Register. “Measles, mumps, whooping cough, and other diseases (some thought to have been eradicated), are now present throughout the country due in part to the ‘anti-vaccination movement.’"
"Many young parents and some celebrities are embracing this anti-vaccination movement and advocating for others to follow suit. This movement favors an all-natural, vaccine-free lifestyle for children in lieu of traditional vaccinations. In turn, ‘anti-vaxxers’ are causing a substantial resurgence of vaccine-preventable disease."
APhA-ASP also advocates for adult vaccinations. According to Register, adult vaccination rates are low because many adults are unaware that they may need vaccinations throughout their lives—even those fully vaccinated as children.
"The protection from some vaccines you received [as a child] can wear off over time and you may need a booster,” he said. “There are also specific vaccines that you may need as you get older based on your age, job, lifestyle, travel, or health conditions."
For those seeking ways to acquire vaccinations without a doctor visit, Register offers alternatives. He said, “Pharmacists serve in one of the most accessible healthcare positions in the nation. Not all immunizations require a doctor's visit, so we encourage individuals to consult with their pharmacist to see which vaccinations they can receive at their local pharmacy. Though pharmacies do not typically offer a comprehensive panel of childhood vaccinations, many pharmacies do provide multiple vaccinations. It is now common for pharmacies to offer the flu vaccine. Additionally, some pharmacies also offer the pneumococcal vaccine, shingles vaccine, and others.”
With school starting across the nation, immunization is critical for children and their peers. According to Register, not only do vaccinated children benefit, but those who come in contact with them benefit as well.
"When a significant portion of a community is immunized against a contagious disease, most members of the community are protected against that disease because there is little opportunity for an outbreak," said Register. "Even those who are not eligible for certain vaccines—such as infants, pregnant women, or immunocompromised individuals—get some protection because the spread of contagious disease is contained. This is known as ‘herd immunity.’"
Register’s ultimate goal is to make the public aware of the positive impact that vaccinations can have on the health of a population.
"Vaccines are only given to children after being meticulously scrutinized by scientists, doctors, and healthcare professionals," he said. "All vaccines used in the U.S. require extensive safety testing before they are licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)."
"Vaccines will involve some discomfort and may cause pain, redness, or tenderness at the site of injection, but this is minimal compared to the pain, discomfort, and trauma of the diseases these vaccines prevent. Serious side effects following vaccination, such as severe allergic reaction, are very rare. The disease-prevention benefits of getting vaccines are much greater than the possible side effects for almost all children."
ULM’s chapter of the APhA-ASP—led by staff adviser Dr. Anthony Walker, the 2013 Louisiana Pharmacist of the Year—serves as the collective voice of ULM student pharmacists, by providing opportunities for professional growth, helping to improve patient care, and envisioning and advancing the future of pharmacy.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) provides comprehensive immunization schedules for infants, children, adolescents, and adults.
For more information, visit http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/default.htm