ALEXANDRIA, Va. (Feb. 16, 2021) — Some local pharmacies are receiving and administering COVID-19 vaccines in their pharmacies, and more vaccine supply to more local pharmacies is needed in order to accelerate the rate of vaccine administration, the National Community Pharmacists Association says. Independent local pharmacies are uniquely positioned to deliver the COVID-19 vaccines to citizens in their communities including those that are hard to reach.
“Community pharmacists are essential health care providers. More importantly, they are already positioned to deliver the vaccine. It’s a ready-made health care infrastructure that federal and state health officials should be using to accelerate the vaccine program,” said NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey, pharmacist, MBA.
Hoey pointed out that 56.8 percent of independent pharmacies that immunize serve communities that rank “high” or “very high” on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Social Vulnerability Index. The Index measures factors such as poverty, lack of transportation, and crowded housing to identify communities that need extra support during public crises. In rural areas, where public transportation is scant and there are few health care providers, local community pharmacies are critical. The same is true in many urban neighborhoods where poverty rates are high and immigrant communities must often overcome language barriers.
“Independent pharmacists are located in communities of all population sizes including rural communities, urban neighborhoods, and immigrant communities that are harder to reach,” said Hoey. “The quickest and most effective way to distribute the vaccines in those communities is to rely on the pharmacists who know them best.
“Independent pharmacists are a part of the communities they serve. They speak the local language, they understand the local culture, and they have roots in the local neighborhoods. There’s a high level of commitment on their part, and a high level of trust among their patients. That’s exactly what we need right now to bring the vaccine to these communities.”
Lack of supply has been a critical issue in the early stages of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. Most independent pharmacists want to participate in the program, but for most pharmacies, the supply of vaccines is only trickling in from state and federal health officials. When given access to the vaccine supply, these local pharmacists are able to quickly and efficiently administer vaccines to patients in their communities.
Founded in 1898, the National Community Pharmacists Association is the voice for the community pharmacist, representing more than 21,000 pharmacies that employ 250,000 individuals nationwide. Community pharmacies are rooted in the communities where they are located and are among America's most accessible health care providers. To learn more, visit www.ncpa.org.