Category Archives: Immunize Oregon

Immunizing as a Pharmacy Student

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by Jennifer Scovell
I decided on the profession of pharmacist when I was in high school. I liked the health care field but I didn’t think I could handle the “yucky stuff” involved in nursing, or the very long academic career of a physician, but pharmacy seemed like it could work. I was good at math, science, and communicating with people so I thought I would give it a shot (no pun intended). The more I learned about the pharmacy profession, the more I fell in love with it. I am very fortunate to still feel this way over 8 years later and I hope my passion only grows in the future.
I did not know that pharmacists were giving immunizations when I first started thinking about pharmacy as a career. And that’s a good thing, if I did I probably would have listed that under my “yucky stuff” category and ruled it out as a future job. When I did learn of the immunizing pharmacists, I wondered if I would be able to handle it. I, like many people, am not very fond of needles. Honestly, I don’t know of anyone who LOVES getting vaccines but I avoided the flu shot every year and the topic produced a great deal of anxiety for me.
So, when the time finally came to start my immunization training at the end of my first year of pharmacy school, I was nervous, to say the least. Our skills lab for vaccine administration came after our live lecture and self-study modules on immunization training. And the best part… as students, we had to practice giving injections on each other! This meant that not only did we have to get (and give) a couple of injections in two different sites, we KNEW that the other person had never done it before! “Exposure therapy” can be used in certain anxiety disorders or phobia disorders and I would classify this experience as such. It was my own personal “Fear Factor” episode and guess what… IT WORKED! While vaccines are still not my favorite thing to receive, I do not get anxious and I certainly do not avoid them. Just this last weekend I received my first dose of Havrix (Hepatitis A vaccine) from my local pharmacist.
Immunizing is now one of my favorite activities when interning at community pharmacies or volunteering at outreach immunization clinics. It is a great opportunity to have one-on-one time with patients to answer their questions and talk about their health. Working and volunteering at different sites with pharmacists and nurses has given me the opportunity to improve my immunization technique and learn best practices. With each vaccine I administer, I have the chance to promote immunization as the best way to protect the public from certain diseases, like the flu. As a pharmacy intern at the Oregon Health Authority Immunization Program, I have seen the passion and dedication of the people in this program and I hope that I can help strengthen the relationship between the Oregon Immunization Program and all immunizing pharmacists.

Editor’s Note: Jennifer’s last day as an intern at the Oregon Immunization Program is on Friday. She has been a fantastic addition to the team, and we will miss her!

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Filed under ALERT IIS, Flu, Immunize Oregon

H7N9 and the 3 Ps of Pandemic Flu Preparedness

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By Tessa Jaqua
H1N1 will forever live in infamy in the minds of public health professionals and healthcare providers alike. It stands as the pinnacle of pandemic preparedness and lessons learned. When it was over and the dust had settled, state and county public health departments put all those quickly developed plans on the shelf to—hopefully—sit, unused for a good long while.

Then, in March of 2013, rumors started crossing the seas, whispers of H7N9 and human infection grew louder, and by April the World Health Organization announced that avian influenza A (H7N9), a type of flu usually seen in birds, has been identified in a number of people in China. Human infections with a new avian influenza A (H7N9) virus continue to be reported in China, with 131 cases and 36 deaths as of May 17. There was some mild illness in humans, however most patients have had severe respiratory distress. There have been no cases of H7N9 reported outside of China, and the CDC is not sounding the alarm quite yet, but this is an excellent time to dust off those plans and review the lessons we learned from the H1N1. If for no other reason, it’s always good to be prepared, just in case.

3 Ps of pandemic flu preparedness:
Plan Review: Remember all those notebooks, excel documents, word files, etc. that were filled to the brim with pressing and important preparedness and response information during H1N1 and possibly H1N5? Get them out, open them up, and review them. H7N9 may become pandemic in the fall, or maybe in 2015, or possibly never, but when you’ve planned and prepared for this before, it’s always important to review and update regularly.
Partner Check-up: We have lists and lists of push partners and community resources, but when was the last time they were updated? Are you sure that Tracy Smith is still the administrator of that residential care facility? Refresh the list, update numbers, addresses, and add or delete partners. These lists hold the key to true community response so it is integral that they be as current and as useful as possible.
Public Prevention: The best time to prepare for a pandemic outbreak is before it happens. Redouble your efforts to communicate disease prevention strategies to the public and communicate regularly with partners. Provide health literate, continual, easy access to preparedness tips and flu facts in redundant locations. Remember there is no such thing as being over-prepared.

H7N9 might not be a big bad pandemic flu strain yet, but the risk reminds us that preparation is our best defense.

For more information about the H7N9 strain visit the CDC website HERE.

    Second 2013 coalition roundtable scheduled

Immunize Oregon is excited to announce their second 2013 Round Table. This free, full day event will be held in La Grande, Oregon on Wednesday, June 19th from 9-4:30. Immunization updates including ALERT IIS, statewide immunization rates, and VFC developments will be covered. Dr. Jay Rosenbloom will give his keynote presentation: “Addressing Vaccine Resistance.”

The roundtable event is a wonderful opportunity for providers and interested stakeholders to learn more about immunizations. For more information, please visit our website, http://www.healthoregon.org/immunizeoregon or click here to register.

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Filed under All Posts, Flu, Immunize Oregon, Oregon Immunization, VFC

Immunize Oregon: Improving community immunity

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Immunize Oregon, OIP’s lifespan coalition,  is excited to announce we are restructuring the way we offer our FLU  (Free, Local, Underserved) Clinics. The coalition partners with area clinics, health systems, non-profits, and nursing and pharmacy schools to provide immunization clinics that offer no-cost vaccines to uninsured individuals. We work in conjunction with nursing or pharmacy students as vaccinators if necessary, and with partners who host the clinic and do outreach to people who need vaccines. 

If you are interested in hosting a FLU Clinic during the 2013-2014 season (September-April) please click here or contact Alison.alexander@state.or.us 

 We are also elated to announce a notable expansion of our mini-grants–one of OAIC’s most popular programs.  This year we are able to offer $30,000 of grant funds, with a maximum award of $4,000!  These grants are for organizations looking to improve immunization rates in Oregon.  Last year, OAIC had $48,000 in requests for mini-grants with a budget of only $14,000. This year the coalition hopes to make a greater impact on the health of our communities by expanding this wildly successful program.

Immunization projects that focus on populations across the lifespan will be considered for grants, with special consideration to those that work to raise adult immunization rates (which are the lowest).

If you are interested in applying, please look at our website, www.healthoregon.org/immunizeoregon for the request for proposals and application materials. If you have any questions, please contact Katherine.h.mcguiness@state.or.us

If you are interested in getting involved in Immunize Oregon, have any general questions about the coalition’s work or have an idea for a project, we would love to hear from you! Please email either Alison or Katherine at the addresses listed above.

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Filed under Immunize Oregon, OAIC, OPIC, VFC