I’m sure I’m not the only one looking forward to my summer holiday. For most of us, it is one of the highlights of the year. Of course, we should all take the necessary precautions to make sure we don’t encounter any holiday health hazards, and so a pre-holiday trip to the pharmacy should be a key part of people’s travel preparations.
It is hoped that most people know that pharmacy staff are well placed to recommend the appropriate medicines and travel products that can be used to treat conditions such as sunburn, headaches, diarrhoea and insect bites, and also that community pharmacists can offer advice on any vaccinations or additional medications that people may need.
However, PAGB’s Self Care Nation report revealed that only three per cent of people visit a pharmacy for travel advice or vaccinations, with less than one in 10 admitting they don’t use the wider services that pharmacies can offer.
There is a good range of OTC products and brands to offer the public to help them have a safe and trouble-free holiday. Creating seasonal, themed in-store displays around the pharmacy and next to the till will help to remind those people who are going on holiday to stock up on the more common travel products, such as suncream, rehydration sachets and pain relief well in advance of their trip. It’s also a good opportunity to cross-sell products that complement each other. For example, if you notice someone is purchasing mosquito spray, you can also recommend some bite and sting cream. During peak season, staff can use the time when people are waiting for a prescription or other services to discuss travel health.
In recent years, serious threats have emerged from disease outbreaks overseas, such as the zika virus and yellow fever, so keep up to date on recent outbreaks to be able to offer accurate and safe advice to travellers, who may be concerned or unaware of the risks. The British Global and Travel Health Association, for example, can provide information that people should be aware of, and there are numerous online resources that healthcare professionals can sign up to for travel health alerts.
When offering travel health advice and recommending products to a customer, consider their destination, along with the length of their flight and trip, their personal health and particular circumstances, for example whether they are pregnant or have recently given birth.
By tailoring advice to the individual, you will be providing a valuable service and saving them an unnecessary visit to the GP or nurse – as well as making sure they have everything they need for their trip.
Make your pharmacy a one-stop shop for travel health this summer and you will ensure that your customers have a healthy and happy holiday that they remember for all the right reasons.
This column first appeared in P3 magazine.