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NACDS: Administration's COVID-19 vaccine plan should use pharmacy's strengths

Sandra Levy
Senior Editor
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In a letter to the administration, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores urged the administration's Operation Warp Speed to rely on the proven record of pharmacies and pharmacists for the rapid deployment of COVID-19 vaccines when they are available.

"For more than a decade since the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, government planning to distribute and administer federally purchased pandemic vaccine to the American public rapidly, efficiently, and safely has included modeling that heavily draws on the strength of chain pharmacies, pharmacists, and private sector distribution channels," NACDS wrote.

"About one in three adults (38 million) who received the influenza vaccine in 2018-2019 did so at their community pharmacy, administered by their pharmacist. Americans appreciate the opportunity to receive their vaccinations at pharmacies, and with more than 60,000 community pharmacies nationwide – in which nearly 90% of all Americans live within 5 miles of a pharmacy – pharmacies stand ready to support Operation Warp Speed's efforts to safely and efficiently bring the COVID-19 vaccine to the American public."

NACDS' letter detailed federal government studies showing that pharmacists can help vaccinate 25 million more Americans per week, and can help vaccinate 80% of the nation seven weeks sooner than if neighborhood pharmacies were not engaged. Of critical importance, NACDS noted, "Many community pharmacies can also deploy mobile vaccine programs that can be tailored to those in underserved, rural, or vulnerable communities."

The association that represents 40,000 regional and national chain pharmacies with 155,000 pharmacists – including traditional drug, grocery and mass retail locations – also noted its members' proven record of ramping up vaccination deployment during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. Pharmacies accounted for 23% of vaccines distributed during a three-month window during that pandemic.  

More information about NACDS' recommendations for public health and for reopening the nation in this next phase of pandemic response can be found in the report 'Pharmacies: A Vital Partner in Reopening America'.