National Community Pharmacists Association CEO Doug Hoey is joining Operation Warp Speed. The organization announced Tuesday that Hoey had been invited by the Department of Health and Human Services to serve alongside administration officials and industry executives as part of the administration's push to develop, approve, produce, and distribute hundreds of millions of doses of vaccines for COVID-19.
“Developing a vaccine in record time is the first hurdle. Then we need a way to distribute hundreds of millions of doses in record time," Hoey said. "Community pharmacies are crucial to the administration of the millions of doses that will be needed to overcome the debilitating effect of the virus, and I’m glad to have the opportunity to represent community pharmacy as part of the effort."
President Trump announced Operation Warp Speed in June of this year. The project is a government-wide effort including HHS, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health, and the Department of Defense. They are working with pharmaceutical companies to produce 300 million doses of vaccine in just a few months.
“COVID-19 is a public health emergency and an economic emergency,” said Hoey. “A vaccine is imperative to stop the spread, save lives, and get the economy back on its feet. Community pharmacies are located where the people are, including rural and medically underserved areas. Three-quarters of them already provide immunizations, and the overwhelming majority plan to administer COVID-19 vaccines when they come to market.”
Hoey cited a new survey released last week by NCPA showing that community pharmacists are perfectly positioned to be part of the national vaccine project. Their mobility is one key advantage. In fact, 70% serve patients in locations outside of their brick-and-mortar pharmacies. They immunize patients in long-term care facilities, local businesses, community centers, schools, prisons, places of worship, and other locations.
Hoey noted that community pharmacists are willing to go wherever they can to help the most people. “Most serve communities with fewer than 50,000 residents, and nearly 40% serve communities with fewer than 10,000 residents. The only way to efficiently and effectively reach some of these communities is through the community pharmacy.