Survey Findings Suggest Independent Pharmacists are Key to Vaccinating Vulnerable Populations

Many pharmacists say short vaccine supply is a bigger problem than patient reluctance, according to NCPA survey

NCPA April 13, 2021

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (April 13, 2021) — A new survey of independent pharmacists released by the National Community Pharmacists Association finds that almost half are not getting enough or any doses of the coronavirus vaccine to serve their patients. Forty-seven percent say they are serving populations with a significant minority population. Nearly 80 percent operate in places with fewer than 50,000 people, with almost 40 percent serving a population of less than 10,000.

“Reaching socially vulnerable patients with vaccines continues to be a key problem that community pharmacists can solve. The administration recently announced a dramatic expansion of the number of pharmacies that will get the vaccine. That’s great news, but we need to be sure the supply can meet that demand,” said NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey, pharmacist, MBA.

According to the survey, 39 percent of independent pharmacists say at least a quarter of the prescriptions they fill are covered by Medicaid. Forty-two percent described the communities they serve as mostly low-income. Roughly 48 percent said inadequate supply was by far their biggest problem.

The survey also found that 22 percent of independent pharmacists identified patient reluctance as a problem. Many public surveys show vaccine hesitancy decreasing. That’s another good sign, said Hoey, but reaching the remaining population is critical to the national goal of widespread immunity.

“Americans trust their local pharmacist, and they can be very helpful educating people about COVID-19 and the vaccines,” said Hoey. “Independent pharmacists live in the communities they serve. They are often prominent local business leaders and active in the civic life of the community. That’s especially true in communities of color, where community pharmacists often have strong ties, they and their staffs are part of the fabric of their neighborhood, and they can reach socially vulnerable populations in ways that larger pharmacies cannot.”

Hoey said, “Public health officials must fully integrate independent pharmacies in the rollout and help highlight to their constituents all of the various locations – including independent pharmacies – where the vaccines are available.”

Note: This NCPA survey is based on 515 responses to a survey sent to roughly 5,000 pharmacy owners/managers from April 1-April 7. NCPA is the country's largest organization of independent pharmacy owners.


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