The National Association of Chain Drug Stores held a media briefing on Wednesday to discuss the essential role of pharmacies and pharmacists in administering COVID-19 vaccine.
NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson noted that the briefing comes just as Americans faced the darkest day Tuesday, with 4,327 Americans dying due to COVID-19.
"We all know we won’t overcome the pandemic, protect ourselves and others, revive livelihoods and get back to all we need and those we love, without safe and effective vaccines. Science has given us reason for hope and confidence and now we need to get these safe and effective vaccines to the American people efficiently."
Anderson also noted that based on conservative assumptions, pharmacies have the capacity to meet the demand for 100 million vaccine doses in just one month when that level of the vaccine supply is available, thereby exceeding both the Trump administration’s goal of 20 million shots and the incoming Biden administration’s promise of 100 million doses in 100 days.
Anderson went on to say that the trust, accessibility, reach and experience of pharmacies, pharmacists, and pharmacy teams are crucial. He also noted that there is a pharmacy within 5 miles of 90% of Americans.
Kathleen Jaeger, NACDS senior vice president of pharmacy care and patient advocacy, who was present at the briefing, pointed out that for the last few weeks vaccines have been targeted to phase 1 priority group, which consists of the front line healthcare workers and nursing home residents and staff.
"As of yesterday Operation Warp speed reported they have distributed 27.6 million doses, and up to today 9.3 million Americans have been vaccinated with their first dose. This leaves 18.4 million doses on refrigerated shelves. Yesterday Operation Warp Speed announced expanding the program to include eligible population 65 years and older and anyone under 65 who is at the highest risk for comorbidities. At the same time they also expanded and urged the states to expand their vaccinator channels to include community pharmacies through a federal transfer program," she said.
Jaeger said that late last week Operation Warp Speed and the CDC had a conference call with Governors to explain the Federal Transfer Program because they could assist to deploy community pharmacies that have deep experience in providing vaccinations in rural areas and urban medically underserved population and looking at how they could leverage pharmacies and provide rapid access with their trusted healthcare professionals.
"This program commenced with states able to put through the transfer this past Sunday and tomorrow pharmacies that are participating with the state will receive their notice and their first allocation of the transfer of the vaccine from that state. We’re aware of pharmacies with COVID-19 vaccinations starting in New York tomorrow, with Ohio and Colorado slated to start soon. States have been working directly with pharmacies in certain states such as California, Florida, Louisiana, Texas, New Jersey, and others.
Jaeger noted that the Federal Pharmacy Partnership program will be turned on Jan. 14. "Of the 19 enrolled entities, CDC will start with identifying one or two companies across the 50 states with each of the 19 entities starting in at least one state. That will start moving forward. The program is projected to begin early in mid-February and is dependent on supply," she said.