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 Subject : Immunizations and Adverse Events.. 08/24/2017 11:04:41 PM 
Brittany Hoffmann-Eubanks
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As we start another flu season and begin to recommend flu, pneumococcal, herpes zoster and others I wanted to share a story with you. Like a lot of student pharmacists, learning how to immunize was an exciting prospect and I could not wait to begin. I was fortunate to be trained in my P1 year which gave me years of experience by the time I became a new practitioner. Anyone who knows me, knows how passionate I am about immunizations and public health! My grandmother was one of the unfortunate individuals in the 1940s who contracted Polio as a child. The results of this terrible disease are still very evident today in the almost 5 inch shoe lift and brace on her leg that is necessary for her to walk properly. Like many of you, I have had so many patients decline vaccines for various reasons and I work hard to educate them and change their minds. It wasn't until recently that I looked at the adverse events experienced by some patients very differently. For an upcoming trip (I also love to travel) to Peru, I received the yellow fever vaccine. I unfortunately did not tolerate it well. In fact, I fell into the 1 in 125,000 individuals who had a severe nervous system reaction. While I am still recovering from this scary scenario, the experience has brought a whole new level of understanding to those who object out of fear of harm from a vaccine. More than ever before, I understand the need to really listen to your patient's concerns and to not dismiss it as "it's so rare" or "it's such a small percentage". These statements are obviously true, and there is a wealth of information regarding vaccine safety that overwhelmingly supports their use for vaccine preventable diseases. But do not get caught up in the facts and numbers so much that you forget to listen to your patient and really address their concerns. Like all other medical interventions, there are risks and benefits. Educating your patient and truly expressing empathy and understanding go a long way. Further, if one of your patients happens to experience an adverse event they will be more likely to inform you and you can help them manage the event hopefully leading to a better outcome. Or at a minimum, avoid having them forgo immunizations at all in the future.

Happy immunizing!

Brittany Hoffmann-Eubanks,PharmD,MBA
 
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