After the "huge success" of the vaccination against Covid-19 and flu, in which more than 3.3 million vaccines have already been administered, Fernando Araújo defended the importance of taking advantage of this "machine installed" in pharmacies to extend it to other vaccines in the National Vaccination Programme (PNV), namely the tetanus and diphtheria vaccine.

"There's capacity, there's availability and I think it's an important way to increase adherence to this type of vaccine," said Fernando Araújo at the conference "Pharmacies on the Journey to People's Health", organised by the National Association of Pharmacies (ANF), which presented the White Paper on Portuguese Pharmacies in Lisbon.

Citing data from the Ministry of Health's Shared Services (SPMS), he said that around half a million people were vaccinated with these vaccines last year.

The executive director of the SNS said that they will be working with the DGS, from a technical and standards point of view, with Infarmed, for regulation, with the Order of Pharmacists and with pharmacies, to analyse how to do this.

"But we have all the conditions to also, within the scope of the PNV, in the case of adults, increase the number of vaccination sites," he defended, safeguarding that "primary healthcare will always remain an open place for this purpose".

However, he said, in the case of vaccination "opportunities cannot be missed".

"When a patient goes to see their family doctor or family nurse, for whatever reason, we always have to assess whether or not the vaccination plan is being fulfilled, if not we have to offer that response," he emphasised.

“Unique ability”

Extending this possibility to more than 3,000 pharmacies creates a "unique ability to reach those who sometimes" can't be reached.

ITherapeuticto this measure, the DGS has been looking at others that it intends to push forward in terms of the agenda in 2024 and that intersect with some of those in the white paper, such as "therapeutic intervention in mild clinical situations" by pharmacies.

At the moment, the DE-SNS is doing the groundwork with the National Data Protection Commission, which "is essential for this purpose", and hopes that at the beginning of 2024, they will be able to establish the parameters and bases for this.

He also highlighted as the "most emblematic measure in the area of HIV the possibility for pharmacies to distribute PREP (pre-exposure prophylaxis).

This work is aimed at pharmacists, but also psychologists and nutritionists, having access to "parts of the electronic health record" of the user, being able to access "valuable clinical information for their activity" and, at the same time, also being able to record their clinical activity in the user's file, he explained.

According to Fernando Araújo, what is being worked on with the National Data Protection Commission is limiting the areas that are critical in terms of security for users.

He also revealed that the aim is to design a pilot project in a delimited geographical area with pathology such as uncomplicated lower urinary tract infections in women.

This work will have to be done with the DGS and with protocols for diagnosis, treatment, and prior validation.

"We want, in a controlled way, to reduce the pressure on family doctors and the unnecessary demand on the emergency room, when there are other types of solutions that are also provided for or available in the health system," she said.