Over half of Americans, approximately 160 million, plan to get the flu shot every year. According to the latest report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), manufacturers have distributed around 174 million doses of the vaccine during the 2019-2020 flu season so far.
While seasonal influenza can provide reliable business for pharmacies around the country, the immunization market as a whole continues to grow at a steady rate. A recent study found that the vaccine market is predicted to be worth over $49 billion by 2022.
Big-box retailers and large chain pharmacies have already caught onto this trend, but many independent pharmacies continue to lag behind. According to the NCPA, just 61% of community pharmacies offer immunizations. This number can include any range of vaccines, from a single flu shot to a full disease state management program.
A 20% vaccination rate can drive up to a 6% increase in overall business, a 2017 Drug Chain Review study found, on top of the revenue generated by immunization offerings. With a higher profit margin and the potential for increased business, immunizations are a service every independent pharmacy should consider.
Other Reasons Vaccinations Are Great for Business
Aside from being a profitable service, immunizations can help expand your pharmacy business in other ways. Offering convenient vaccines for seasonal health, preventative care, and travel can draw in new patients that might not frequent an independent pharmacy otherwise.
Immunization services also create additional touch points with existing patients, educating them on the risks of different conditions and sharing vaccine information:
- Phone calls throughout the year to remind patients about flu shots and other seasonal vaccines.
- Monthly emails or newsletters sharing immunization clinical hours, special offers, and discounts.
- Social media campaigns, updates, and blog posts on the advantages of different vaccines.
- Secure, 2-way messaging to initiate individual conversations with patients who may have immunizations questions or need personalized reminders.
Vaccines to Offer
Experts recommend that independent pharmacies just beginning to offer immunizations should start with influenza and pneumococcal vaccines. Once you’ve established a consistent program and have begun to generate business, you can consider expanding their offerings to include vaccines recommended by the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices:
- Chickenpox (Varicella)
- Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B
- HPV (Human Papillomavirus)
- Meningitis (Meningococcal) and Meningitis B
- MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella)
- Td (Tetanus, Diphtheria) and Tdap (Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis)
If you are able, consider looking into your state laws to see if you can administer childhood vaccines to young children and infants. You can also develop specific offerings for school-aged children to ensure they are properly vaccinated before the next school year begins.
Travel-specific vaccines are another potentially profitable offering. Prepare patients for trips abroad by including immunizations like typhoid, rabies, and Japanese encephalitis. This can also help bring them back for other services such as health screenings and preventative medication.
When to Reach Out
While immunizations represent a continual need that can be offered all year long, reaching out at specific times can keep your patients informed and increase the likelihood of bringing them in for vaccines:
- Seasonal vaccines: Before flu season in late fall and in early spring during its resurgence. Especially helpful for seniors and elderly patients.
- Travel shots: For school-aged children, young adults, and families, before spring break and summer holidays.
- School shots: Mid-summer to help parents with children who start school early to prepare ahead of time.
Immunizations are a must for independent pharmacies as they continue to compete with larger chains. You have the ability to promote vaccinations through digital marketing and communication platforms, educating patients and encouraging them to stay healthy and safe.
By adding immunizations to your offerings, you can continue to improve the quality of your service and promote public health.