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A pharmacist giving a vaccine.

Industry applauds Biden’s expansion of federal pharmacy partnership

The Biden administration is more than doubling the number of pharmacies in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program from 17,000 to nearly 40,000.

The White House on Monday announced that it would be expanding the number of pharmacies receiving COVID-19 vaccines from the federal government. The number of pharmacies now participating in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Partnership Program has more than doubled, going from 17,000 to nearly 40,000.

The move — which has enabled companies like Meijer and CVS Health to expand the locations where they offer COVID-19 vaccines — was met with praise by the National Association of Chain Drug Stores and the American Pharmacists Association.

“Our nation’s pharmacies are uniquely situated to turn vaccine doses into vaccination appointments – efficiently, equitably and conveniently,” NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson said. "With a sufficient vaccine allocation, the American people can benefit fully from the fact that 90% of Americans live within five miles of a pharmacy.”

Anderson continued, “Pharmacies and pharmacy teams have worked extremely hard to prepare well for an efficient vaccination effort. They are prioritizing equity by reaching the underserved, by reaching races hit particularly hard by the pandemic, and by reaching rural areas. At every turn, they have adapted to priorities such as the vaccination of seniors, first-responders and teachers. Pharmacies and pharmacy teams also are succeeding in creating a patient experience that lives up to the trust of all Americans – and that is a key to maximizing vaccine confidence and fully restoring hope, health, wellness and livelihoods.

He also noted that NACDS is making clear that pharmacies are capable of meeting demand for 100 million vaccinations in 30 days if supplies are available. "We look forward to continuing to work with the Biden Administration, with the states, and with local leaders for the ultimate benefit of our nation and of each individual," he said. 

The American Pharmacists Association also lauded the move.

“President Biden did the nation a huge favor by more than doubling the number of pharmacies that will receive COVID-19 vaccines under the federal program,” said APhA executive vice president and CEO Scott  Knoer. “For so many of our nation’s most vulnerable populations, pharmacies’ full participation in COVID-19 vaccination efforts could mean the difference between life and death.”

Knoer added, "Approximately 90% of Americans live within 5 miles of a pharmacy, and most Americans see their pharmacists more than any other health provider each year. Patients often have long and trusting relationships with their pharmacists. The accessibility to pharmacies, particularly in rural and underserved areas, is a strategic asset to national COVID-19 vaccination efforts—even before today’s expansion, 45% of pharmacies participating in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program served the highest-need neighborhoods. 

“The government can count on pharmacies to be not only key vaccination access points, but also sources of public education,” Knoer said. “Pharmacists can answer questions about the vaccine, dispel myths, extend public health messaging, help boost vaccine confidence, and address hesitation to get the COVID-19 vaccine,” Knoer said.

“There is no possible way to swiftly immunize every person and every community in the nation without pharmacies,” Knoer said. “Pharmacists, student pharmacists, and pharmacy technicians have the bona fides, the willingness, and the passion to get us across the finish line.”

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