Vaccinations Services & FAQ
Aaronson's Pharmacy is a full-service community vaccine provider for adults and older children. We are licensed to administer publicly funded and private vaccinations, travel vaccines, and a full complement of community based clinical services. Health Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) informs our recommendations on Immunization. These NACI guidelines help us to provide timely, individualized recommendations. See the Canadian Immunization Guide or Health Canada Here
What vaccines are available at Aaronson's Pharmacy?
ROUTINE VACCINES AND BOOSTER SHOTS:
Depending upon patient circumstances, the following vaccines may be discussed in a vaccine appointment. Some, but not all vaccines are available as a public health benefit; however, broader recommendations based on national and international advisories are observed. This forms the basis of vaccine recommendations.
Boostrix, routine booster +: (TDaP) Acellular Pertussis, plus Tetanus & Diphtheria: Privately Funded. Recommended every 5-10 years, and in pregnancy (pre-natal/maternity family care. Provides additional protection over the publicly funded Td booster vaccine. Nationally recommended. (Free to children and teenagers; Adults: Approx. $50.00 +/- administration fee)
Td Adsorbed, routine booster Tetanus and Diphtheria adsorbed. Publicly Funded to all British Columbians (as per BC schedule). Recommended every 5-10 years. $0.00
Pneumovax-23, booster: (Pneumococcal polysaccharide) Private and Public Supply (as per BC schedule). Recommendations depend upon age and risk factors. Confers good, broad, short-term immuno-resistance to pneumococcal pneumonia. Typically recommended every 2-5 years to those with lung disease, heart disease, history of smoking, or as a booster for those who've received prevnar-13. (Provided free in early childhood, once at age 65, and to all patients with treatment history for chronic lung conditions; otherwise, approx. $42.00 +/- administration fee)
Prevnar-20: (Pneumococcal conjugate) Privately Funded. Confers long term immuno-resistance to bacterial (pneumococcal) pneumonia. This vaccine expands on the previous version (prevnar-13) and adds protection against an additional 7 pneumococcal pneumonia strains. Can be used by adults, and older children. Approx $145.00, +/- administration fee). May be safely used with or without Pneumovax-23. Can be used in patients who have previously received prevnar-13.
Shingrix Series: (Shingles / Herpes zoster) Privately Funded. Significantly reduces risk of outbreak, transmission and severity of symptoms. Excellent efficacy in study period. Projected to confer long term resistance. (Approx $175.00 per dose +/- administration fee)
Varivax (Varicella Virus): Live attenuated vaccine against chickenpox, and later, shingles. Indicated for patients who've never contracted chicken pox. May require boosters at pre-determined intervals. Publicly funded.
Twinrix, 3-4 dose series (Hepatitis A & B). Highly recommended, well in advance of travel, and for local protection. Generally, one completed series confers long term immunity.
Avaxim series: (Hepatitis A) privately funded vaccine, where Twinrix A/B combo series is not needed or desired, or where a single Hep A booster is desired.
Menactra: Meningococcal Groups A, C, Y and W-135. Polysaccharide
NeisVac-C: Meningococcal Group C-TT. Conjugate vaccine
Gardasil-9 HPV Vaccine, Genital Warts & Cervical Cancer risk reduction. (privately funded series, and publicly funded series, where eligible)
MMR Vaccine & Booster, Measles, Mumps, Rubella: Publicly funded vaccine, as per BC schedule.
IPV-Polio / TDaP-Polio: Publicly funded, where applicable, i.e.. travel to endemic areas of continental Africa, and other regions.
Dukoral (E.coli, Cholera, Traveler's diarrheas'): Oral vaccine. Privately funded travel vaccine. Short effective life. Highly recommended. Booster prior to each trip to high risk regions, tropics.. Two doses required for first use. One for boosters.
Vivotif (Typhoid Vaccine): Oral vaccine. Privately funded travel vaccine. Tropics.
HiB (haemophilus influenzae) - Generally only provided to small children, as a publicly funded vaccine, in combination with other vaccines during routine early visits. This vaccine is usually administered to babies at their early vaccine appointments with public health nurses, maternity care physicians, pediatricians, and other primary care practitioners. For those who have no records of this administered, or who wish to have a booster dose arranged, we can obtain and administer this for older children and adults upon special request only. Doses may be privately funded outside of public schedule. It is generally not required in adults, unless an elevated level of risk or concern is disclosed.
FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions
Fee(s) for Clinical services and vaccination:
A Clinical Services Fee applies to all vaccination appointments. Under very specific circumstances, when public vaccine is provided by the BC government and is administered on behalf of public health authorities, some administration fees may be negotiated by the BC government, and paid on your behalf. If this option is available to you, we will make every effort to provide a covered vaccine option first. Although the BC government provides some vaccine at no cost to the patient, many other vaccine products are available that may not be covered, or may be superior in some ways to the publicly funded options. Your pharmacist should make you aware of all relevant health-related recommendations and options, without bias toward associated costs, as it is in your best interest to be aware of vaccines that might be available to you. This is so you can make an informed decision.
All practitioners, including clinical pharmacists who practice immunization, will charge a clinical services fee for vaccination of privately funded vaccine. This fee covers patient profile review and consultation, discussion, prescribing, materials and the administration of your vaccination. It also includes post administration monitoring and emergency care (if required). It covers the reservation, support staff, office space, product acquisition, logistics and transport, plus all record keeping and future notification required to provide service. Clinical service fees are pre-paid, and non-refundable.
Why Aren't Vaccines Refundable or Returnable?
Unfortunately, all vaccines are not returnable, and not refundable. There are several reasons which include restrictions in PODSA bylaws designed to keep the public safe. Vaccine is a sterile, injectable, perishable item with a short shelf life. Vaccines require specialized storage and shipping. They are highly sensitive to temperature changes and require specialized care. Vaccines are ordered specifically for you and your appointment to ensure they are fresh and in the best possible shape prior to your arrival; therefore, planning takes place to ensure your vaccine arrives in a timely manner. Vaccines are shipped overnight by specialized couriers, and often require packing in dry ice, until stored in the refrigerator for final use. This is a very costly acquisition process, which is not charged to the patient. Transportation to Physician or other practitioner requires specific transportation requirements, and is only completed for end use. All returned vaccines must be disposed of and cannot be used for another patient. Furthermore, the cost of the vaccine is typically quite high; therefore, pharmacies are not permitted to recirculate vaccines, and are not able to provide refunds. Since all vaccines are administered upon the advise of a physician, pharmacist, or other practitioner, and these recomendations are based on published Health Canada directives, the rationale for administration is typically very good. This makes refunds for special circumstances extremely unlikely. In respect of patient autonomy, patients may revoke their consent for administration at any time. The purchased vaccine remains their property, unless it is forfeited.
Pre-payment is required to ensure your vaccine is fresh, and available for your appointment. Most vaccines are administered within a month of arrival in the pharmacy, but may be administered up until the expiration date. After the expiration date, or if a cold-chain failure occurs, the vaccine must be destroyed. If a public vaccine is not administered, it is returned to the health unit for documentation and destruction. We endeavor to have extremely low vaccine waste. Waste is very costly and time consuming to the healthcare system. Thank you for your kind understanding.
If you cant afford a vaccine consult, or do not wish to pay for administration, there's another option:
If you do not wish to pay a clinical services fee for private vaccination, but still wish to purchase a private-vaccine, please present a prescription from your physician, so that it may be dispensed for administration by another practitioner covered by your MSP.
If the vaccine is part of the routine BC schedule and if you qualify, publicly funded vaccines may be made available to your provider directly from the local Health Authority. They are only provided to the practitioner for direct patient-care provision.
Prescriptions for vaccine can only be dispensed from private pharmacy supply, or administered directly from public supply. The pharmacist will not re-distribute public vaccine to your physician, except under very un-usual circumstances where professional judgement deems it necessary (no other option exists).
Do pharmacists need a prescription for vaccine in Canada?
A pharmacist who practices immunization, or is prepared to consult on vaccine, does not require a prescription from a physician because the pharmacist has the same authority to prescribe vaccine as your physician or nurse. If a prescription for vaccine is presented to the pharmacist for dispensing, he/she/they may choose to act on it by:
A) Dispensing privately funded vaccine with the usual dispensing fee, for administration by another practitioner.
B) Dispense privately funded vaccine with the usual dispensing fee, and administer the vaccine as an additional clinical service.
C) Request and administer public vaccine on behalf of the public health unit (if applicable).
D) Refer the patient to a colleague who can provide the required services.
All pharmacists are licensed and qualified to purchase, dispense and sell vaccine; however, not all pharmacists are licensed to practice immunization. Immunization is only provided by pharmacists who wish to complete additional certification, and choose to practice it routinely to maintain their certification. Immunization is provided by pharmacists in clinical environments, select compounding pharmacies, and in adequately prepared retail pharmacies where an appropriate space is available for clinical services.
Why don't pharmacists dispense free vaccines?
Pharmacies receive publicly funded vaccine in the same way your doctor or public health nurse does: from the health unit. These are provided for administration, not dispensing. Vaccine is very valuable and is quite costly to purchase, store and administer. No vaccine is free; however, the Ministry of Health funds basic vaccination for all BC residents, and imposes strict eligibility criteria on when it can be administered for free. This forms part of a larger national effort to reduce vaccine preventable infectious disease. The provinces are tasked with budgeting the services provided by your practitioner, and your practitioner follows both provincial and federal guidelines that help them determine vaccine use. As such, your practitioner's vaccination recommendations are not always the same as what is provided for free. Still, each recommendation should be in line with national guidelines. These sustained efforts have made ID risk significantly lower than in previous generations.
Public vaccine is the property of the public health authority, and may not be dispensed, distributed, or sold by pharmacies. It is inventoried separately in select pharmacies and medical offices for public immunization; therefore, it is stored separately from private vaccines owned by the practitioner. In some cases, they may be intended for applications outside of the BC vaccine schedule. These could be boosters, travel, university admission, employment, institutional admission, elective vaccines, enhanced vaccines, pre-surgical care, or vaccines for persons or situations not covered by BC Health. In other cases, practitioners may offer vaccines which offer specific advantages over public ones, such as longer effectiveness, or to broaden immune coverage. Sometimes people just want a booster because something or someone inspired them to seek it, and having a blood titer test done seemed a hassle. Other times, titers are done and the protection level is below what we'd like to see. In some of these cases, vaccines may be recommended beyond your usual publicly funded shots.
All employers/clinics/pharmacies are paid the same small fee for administering a public vaccine. This fee only covers basic administration of routine items, and is paid per item. It is not paid for dispensing public vaccine because it is prohibited to dispense vaccine distributed for public administration.
Should I book an Appointment with the pharmacist?
Yes! Pharmacy is an ancient career, evolving with time. It is a specialty practiced by doctors of pharmacy who work in a wide variety of environments. Some environments are designed for retail sales. Others are designed for clinical services or other specialties. Many provide accessible, well rounded healthcare. For vaccinations, a good practitioner of immunization will review your concerns, educate, and recommend what is appropriate to you at the time. This is a time consuming process that is not always covered by public or private plans. Still, it is cornerstone to good healthcare practice and preventative medicine.
What should I bring to my appointment?
Please bring any vaccine records you have for discussion, review and updating. Globally, it is common that vaccine record keeping is the responsibility of the patient. This is due to the many jurisdictions and situations in which vaccination may be provided. As a rule of thumb: if there is no clear record of vaccination, no immunity titers, or no clear memory of vaccination, public health authorities recommend providing immunization (even if its been previously administered). This is because the risk of re-vaccination is very low, compared to the relative risk of infectious disease. Providing additional doses will serve to boost protection levels (aka. Booster doses).
Please dress accordingly. Wear a clean short sleeve shirt that can easily be rolled up, or a top that makes it easy to discretely expose your entire upper arm (deltoid). Alternatively, shorts, or shorts worn under pants or a skirt, will make a more comfortable means to expose the thigh (superior/lateral aspect of the thigh), where this injection site is preferred. Often injections in children are easier when this site is selected due to the larger size of the muscle compared to the arm.
Please bathe/shower with soap and water the morning of your visit to keep the risk of infection as low as possible, and to ensure the mutual comfort of both patient and provider.
Want to discuss your medications during your appointment?
If you are on 5 or more medications, you may have more questions and, more to discuss. The BC ministry of health provides a semi-annual med-review appointment with the pharmacist, plus 2 additional follow-up appointments per year (for a total of 4 covered appointments per calendar year). The purpose of these is to discuss your medications in depth, address medication issues, develop a plan, seek recommendations, and answer questions. This is often a good time to review your vaccination status, and discuss other health issues related to medicine.
If you are from out-of-province, are on fewer than 5 prescription medications, or don't qualify for a publicly funded appointments, then a 10-15 minute appointment can be booked at the provincial rate: ($60 basic, $70 complex, $20 Follow-up). Vaccination visits are usually booked for $20-30, per vaccine.