COVID-19 and Influenza Vaccines in Community Pharmacies for Children Five Years of Age and Older

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Complying with Public Health Orders and Speaking in Public Forums: Expectations for Pharmacy Professionals

Pharmacists are expected to comply with Public Health Orders and to critically reflect before making public statements.

*Adapted with permission from the College of Registered Nurses of Manitoba’s public statement on compliance with Public Health Orders

The COVID-19 pandemic has placed unprecedented pressure on the healthcare system and pharmacy professionals have provided unparalleled access for patients and the public during this time. Public health measures continue to evolve in step with new scientific evidence on the mitigation of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is critical that pharmacists understand their professional obligations to adhere to Public Health Orders and refrain from making public statements contrary to prevailing scientific evidence and public health measures.

Pharmacists are expected to practice in accordance with applicable competencies, federal and provincial legislation, practice directions, and the Code of Ethics. This includes expectations to

  • Apply legal requirements to practice, including federal and provincial/territorial legislation, policies, by-laws, and standards [1];
  • Apply federal and provincial/territorial workplace, occupational health and safety, and other related legislation to the practice setting [1];
  • Respect the autonomy, values and dignity of each patient [2];
  • Hold the health and safety of each patient to be of primary consideration [2]; and
  • Act with honesty and integrity [2].

Speaking in Public Forums Including Social Media

Because pharmacists hold a position of leadership and trust within the health system and the community, any statements pharmacists make in public forums or on social media have the potential to influence the public and be taken as an expression of professional views or advice.

The College strongly encourages all pharmacists to reflect on these and all related professional obligations (including any applicable workplace policies) before engaging in a public forum, and to avoid expressing views that are not supported by evidence such as anti-masking or anti-vaccine viewpoints, or recommending unapproved treatments for COVID-19.

Social media posts that share inaccurate or outdated information about COVID-19 or the provincial vaccine campaign can spread misinformation and cause frustration for already stressed or fatigued Manitobans. If you decide to post about COVID-19 or the vaccine campaign, please consider the following tips:

  • Provide only timely information on eligibility or access with links to the most up-to-date provincial information such as protectmb.ca or the Manitoba government website. Avoid posting eligibility or supply information directly in your posts as it can quickly become outdated.
  • Promote vaccine awareness and competence by using sample posts or resources from credible sources such as the Government of Canada or CANVAX.
  • Review links and information that you are re-posting from other sources to ensure those sources of information are accurate and credible.

Complying with Public Health Orders

All pharmacists are expected to observe and comply with all applicable Public Health Orders as set forth by the Chief Provincial Public Health Officer, including but not limited to, masking requirements, self-isolation requirements, and vaccination/testing requirements for designated persons.

The latest Public Health Orders can be found at the following link:
https://www.gov.mb.ca/covid19/prs/orders/index.html

If you are unsure if your facility falls under the Order Requiring Vaccination or Testing for Designated Persons, please contact your employer to confirm vaccination and testing requirements.

Patients and members of public who have concerns about a pharmacist’s conduct have a right to enquire about company or facility policies on COVID-19. They also have a right to make a complaint to the College or to the Health Protection Unit if they feel a pharmacist or other pharmacy employee is violating public health orders.

As with all concerns brought forward to the College, from members of the public, other governing agencies or employers, or from colleagues in healthcare, instances of noncompliance with Public Health Orders will be reviewed, and may be subject to investigation, with the registrant being held accountable for their conduct as outlined by The Pharmaceutical Act.

[1] Professional Competencies for Canadian Pharmacists at Entry to Practice section 1.1.1 and 1.1.2

[2] Code of Ethics