Pharmacists as Immunizers

From the Collections is a recurring feature at aihp.org that highlights articles, artifacts, images, and other items of interest from AIHP publications and collections.

Sabin Vaccine
This shipment of Type 1 Sabin oral polio vaccine from Charles Pfizer & Company to Syracuse, NY, in September 1961 was stored at 30° below zero F. (Image from AIHP Drug Topics Collection).

Today’s item is the article, “Pharmacists and Immunization: Increasing Involvement over a Century,” by Dr. John D. Grabenstein from the vol. 41, no. 4 (1999) issue of Pharmacy in History. This article will be open access and available to all readers (at the link above) via JSTOR until June 30th.

As the world eagerly awaits an effective immunization against COVID-19, it seems reasonable to expect that pharmacists will have a major role in administering the vaccine.

Although pharmacists have long been involved with immunization and it is commonplace today for pharmacists to give vaccinations, the modern era of pharmacists as vaccinators dates back only to 1982.

How did this professional role for pharmacists develop over the twentieth century? Read about in Dr. Grabenstein’s article at the link above.

Dr. Grabenstein’s article traces the history of vaccines and pharmacists from the early twentieth century and their participation in (and sometimes opposition to) government-run public health campaigns against diseases like smallpox and diphtheria. Pharmacists then played an important role, as he recounts, in the polio vaccination campaigns of the 1950s and 1960s. And, since 1982, individual pharmacists and the APhA have organized programs to raise the awareness and administration of vaccines.

Hopefully, pharmacists will soon be on the forefront of vaccinating the public against COVID-19.

If you have any pharmacy stories or experiences related to the COVID-19 pandemic, please consider submitting them to the AIHP COVID-19 Pandemic Pharmacy Historical Documentation Project.

Prescription Pharmacy
Coleman’s Drug Store, of Kirkland, Washington, used refrigeration technology in 1947 to store vaccines in a prominent location. (Image from AIHP Drug Topics Collection).
Pharmacist Preparing Vaccine
Emmett E. Packer, president of the Dauphin-Cumberland-Lebanon Pharmaceutical Association of Pennsylvania prepares individual does of the Sabin oral polio vaccine in 1961. (Image from AIHP Drug Topics Collection).
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