Finding the Right Time for Vaccination

Vaccination during non traditional hours appears common

(RxWiki News) One thing that seems to be important for many people when choosing to get vaccinated is convenience, according to a new study.

A recent study found that about 30 percent of the vaccinations given at a national pharmacy chain occurred during non-traditional hours — hours outside of 9 am to 6 pm on weekdays.

The researchers also found that younger, male patients living in urban areas were more likely to receive vaccinations during non-traditional hours than other groups.

"Talk to your doctor about vaccine safety."

This study was led by Jeffery A. Goad, PharmD, MPH, of the School of Pharmacy at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, California. The research team examined the types of vaccines given and the patients who were receiving these vaccinations during non-traditional clinic hours at a national community pharmacy.

The researchers analyzed data from the Walgreens pharmacy chain between August 1, 2011 and July 31, 2012. Traditional hours were defined as 9 am to 6 pm on weekdays, while non-traditional hours were defined as weekdays between 6 pm and 9 am, weekends and 10 federal holidays.

Vaccines were categorized based on the US Food and Drug Administration's National Drug Code. The researchers looked at several patient characteristics, including age, sex, residence (urban or other), chronic conditions, insurance status, vaccine type, number of vaccinations received and whether the patient picked up a prescription medication at the time of vaccination.

The researchers found that over the course of the study period, 6,250,402 vaccinations were given. The majority of these vaccinations were for influenza (85 percent) while the other 15 percent were for a variety of other diseases like tetanus, meningitis and pneumonia.

Approximately 70 percent of the vaccinations were given during traditional hours, while about 30 percent were given during non-traditional hours. The most popular non-traditional time period for vaccinations was weekends (17.4 percent of total vaccinations), followed by evenings (10.2 percent) and federal holidays (2.9 percent).

The researchers found that younger (under 65 years), male patients living in urban areas were more likely to receive vaccines during non-traditional areas. Older patients (65 and over) with at least one chronic condition and those who were insured were less likely to get vaccinated during non-traditional hours.

The study authors noted that adult vaccination rates in the US fail to meet national recommendations. According to the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, approximately 50,000 adults die each year from vaccine-preventable diseases. Increasing access to vaccines — by expanding pharmacy hours, for example — could serve as an effective strategy to increase adult vaccinations and potentially save lives.

This study was published in the September/October issue of the Annals of Family Medicine.

Funding for this study was provided by Walgreens.

The study authors reported potential conflicts of interest with Walgreens and Merck and Co, Inc.

Review Date: 
September 24, 2013