Back in September, I wrote that community pharmacists are the X-factor to make sure that millions of patients get a vaccine. This week, the CDC released highlights of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program and reported that through June 3, more than 80 million people have been vaccinated! For perspective, that's every man, woman, and child living in New York, Georgia, North Carolina, Oregon, Iowa, Utah, Missouri, Michigan, North Dakota, and Pennsylvania. That means that 26 percent of all vaccines have been administered in a pharmacy that participates in the FRPP. When pharmacies that only received vaccine from their state are factored in, that percentage will be meaningfully higher.
NCPA told federal and state officials repeatedly — and it's come true — that the rollout of the vaccines would not be successful without involving community pharmacists.
Other highlights of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program:
A total of 21 retail pharmacy partners are participating in the program, with more than 41,000 locations participating and administering doses nationwide. This includes long-term care pharmacies.
Overall, 40 percent of the doses administered through the program have gone to a person from a racial or ethnic minority group (among people with known race or ethnicity).
Many pharmacy partners are conducting pop-up clinics to increase access to vaccination nationwide.
The importance of community pharmacists has never been more obvious. But pharmacy owners need help to make sure we can be here for the next public health emergency. Earlier this week, I sent a welcome letter to newly confirmed CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure. In that letter NCPA asked for her help with:
The immediate elimination of retroactive pharmacy direct and indirect renumeration fees.
The retention of pharmacist patient care authorities and flexibilities provided during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
The requirement of detailed Medicare Part D reporting requirements on pharmacy performance measures.
The development of Part D plan guidance for medical-at-home services provided by LTC pharmacies.
We met with Brooks-LaSure and her colleagues in December as part of the Biden HHS transition team, and we again made the point that community pharmacies need relief from oppressive pharmacy DIR fees and that community pharmacists would be pivotal to the success of the COVID vaccine rollout. We now know that last statement was backed up 80 million times and counting. Pharmacists have made the difference in overcoming the pandemic. They truly have been the X-factor.
B. Douglas Hoey, Pharmacist, MBA
P.S. "How sweet it will be to again interact in person!" That's a quote from NCPA President Brian Caswell, R.Ph. "Log off. Go live." is the tagline for NCPA's Annual Convention in Charlotte, N.C., Oct 9-12. This will be one of the first live pharmacy meetings in the industry—we're thinking of it as a "Hero's Welcome" celebration for community pharmacists. Registration just opened this week. Register now and save $100 with code FLASH100.