Herd Immunity: What Will It Take for Patients to Get Immunized?

February 2015, Vol 3, No 2 - Letter from the Editor
Frederique H. Evans, MBS

With the spread of measles, it is difficult to ignore the important role of retail pharmacists and clinicians in driving immunization, and dispelling common misconceptions surrounding vaccines.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 18 states have reported cases of measles, with most of them being part of a large, ongoing, multistate outbreak linked to an amusement park in California.1

Although measles was eliminated from the United States in 2000, the number of cases has ranged from as low as 37 in 2004 to as high as 644 in 2014.2 The reasons attributed to this increase include more measles cases than usual in countries Americans often travel to, leading to more cases coming into the United States, and/or more spreading of measles in US communities with pockets of unvaccinated people.2

Current concerns and beliefs that may be barriers to the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) immunization in these communities include concerns about an increased risk for febrile seizures, and beliefs that the vaccine may cause inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) or autism.3 The CDC cites 2 recent studies indicating a very small risk for febrile seizures after the first vaccination of MMR and varicella in patients between ages 12 and 47 months.4 However, despite common belief, data have not shown a link between the MMR vaccination and IBD or autism.5,6 The MMR vaccine also has a good safety profile, and, as with all vaccines, may be associated with minor reactions, including pain and redness at the injection site, headache, fatigue, or a vague feeling of discomfort.3

As retail pharmacists, clinicians, and healthcare providers, it is impor­tant to have an open discussion with patients and caregivers about the risks associated with vaccines, and to dispel potential misconceptions. It is also important to provide all the information needed for patients to make an informed decision, including the role of immunization in the community and vaccine safety. In this issue of Inside Patient Care: Pharmacy & Clinics, we provide an interview with James S. Beaumariage, RPh, who discusses ways he effectively communicates with his patients, including asking the right questions and building a rapport with them (see “Questions Answered: Going Beyond the Mechanism of Action and Getting Through to Patients”).

We hope you will enjoy this issue of Inside Patient Care: Pharmacy & Clinics. Contact us and tell us what you think it will take for patients to get immunized. We would also like to hear about the methods you find useful when communicating with patients, and some misconceptions you have had to dispel during your career as a retail pharmacist, healthcare provider, or clinician.


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Measles cases and outbreaks. www.cdc.gov/measles/cases-outbreaks.html. Updated February 2, 2015. Accessed February 10, 2015.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Frequently asked questions about measles in the US. www.cdc.gov/measles/about/faqs.html. Updated February 3, 2015. Accessed February 10, 2015.
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Measles vaccination. www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/measles/default.htm#concerns. Updated February 7, 2013. Accessed February 10, 2015.
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Two options for protecting your child against measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella. www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/combo-vaccines/mmrv/vacopt-factsheet-par ent.htm. Updated May 7, 2010. Accessed February 10, 2015.
  5. National Centre for Immunisation Research & Surveillance. MMR vaccine, inflammatory bowel disease and autism. www.ncirs.edu.au/immunisation/fact-sheets/mmr-vaccine-ibd-autism-fact-sheet.pdf. Published December 2009. Accessed February 10, 2015.
  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD). www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/topics.html. Last updated March 13, 2014. Accessed February 10, 2015.
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