Bruce Clayton is a professor of pharmacy practice and associate dean in the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences at Butler University in Indiana. He wrote an op-ed that was featured in the Indianapolis Star discussing pharmacists’ efforts (and willingness) to improve vaccination rates.

Clayton explains:

“According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2012 was the worst year for whooping cough since 1955. The severity of this season’s pneumonia and influenza outbreak is also making headlines nationally. Pneumonia and flu together are the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States. Most of these deaths occur in people 65 or older. The Indiana Department of Health reported that as of Feb. 13, 56 residents have died from the flu in the 2012-13 season. Four of the cases were people younger than 18…

Despite their importance, though, vaccines are not reaching everyone who needs to be vaccinated. There are big gaps in vaccination rates, especially among adults. In fact, only about half of adults 19 to 64 have adequate protection against whooping cough. The likelihood of people in this age group developing pertussis is small, but the possibility of transmitting it to infants and children is much greater. It is important that anyone having contact with an infant or children be fully vaccinated with the correct pertussis vaccine for their age. This includes parents, adolescent siblings, grandparents and caregivers, including those older than 65.”

He goes on to point out that there are significant disparities in vaccination rates (two in three white persons older than 65 have gotten the pneumonia vaccine while less than half of black and Hispanic seniors have gotten vaccinated). While it’s impossible to prevent every death from infectious illness, we can definitely do better by increasing vaccination rates. And one easy way to improve vaccination rates is by making sure it’s safe, easy and cost-effective to get vaccinated.

In Indiana alone, more than 2700 pharmacists have received specialized training as part of a vaccine administration certification program that’s sponsored by the American Pharmacists Association and approved by the CDC. And they’re all ready and able to vaccinate patients in their local pharmacy and at their convenience.

Read more: Pharmacists prepared to give more vaccinations