Pharmacy orgs call for tier 1 status for pharmacists in COVID-19 vaccine planning

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A healthcare worker giving an immunization.

Pharmacy orgs call for tier 1 status for pharmacists in COVID-19 vaccine planning

By Sandra Levy - 09/04/2020

The American Pharmacists Association and 12 other pharmacy organizations today in a letter told a special committee of the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine that pharmacists should be given tier 1 priority status in the allocation and distribution of COVID-19 vaccine(s).

“Pharmacies and pharmacists in all practice settings are essential front-line health care providers and have been providing COVID-19 and related patient care since the coronavirus first appeared in the United States,” the group said. “We are proud of the tremendous critical efforts that our members have undertaken to help our nation respond to the pandemic.” 

The organizations said that pharmacies in all practice settings should be included in this designation. This includes community pharmacies, hospitals, long-term care facilities, specialty pharmacies, community health centers, physician offices, ambulatory clinics, managed care organizations, hospice settings, and government facilities.   

The organizations noted that more than 360,000 pharmacists have been trained to administer vaccines to patients of all ages, and “stand ready and able to meet the health care needs of their patients and communities.”

Earlier this week, NASEM issued a draft set of recommendations for how the COVID-19 vaccine(s) should be allocated to the public, starting with essential health care providers and others at high-risk of transmission. Pharmacists were listed in the second priority tier .

The pharmacy organizations’ letter had three key recommendations:

  • To ensure that pharmacists continue to provide critical care to patients, including administration of COVID-19 vaccine, the Framework must recognize pharmacists in all practice settings in tier 1 as essential front-line health care providers for priority vaccine administration;
  • To ensure the equitable allocation of COVID-19 vaccines to priority and other populations, our organizations strongly urge the committee’s report include a primary recommendation that ALL licensed pharmacies are given a priority designation in Federal and State vaccine allocation, distribution, and immunization plans. This should include prioritization of ancillary supplies and access to personal protective equipment in the delivery of care to patients and protection of our immunizing workforce; and
  • The committee should recommend that federal and state vaccine distribution and immunization plans include a fully-funded component for pharmacists and other accessible health care practitioners to conduct coordinated and consistent community- based-education and outreach campaigns supporting recommended vaccinations. These campaigns should focus on eliminating stigma, addressing vaccine hesitancy, and improving prevention and health outcomes for high priority and vulnerable patient populations.

The letter was signed by the following pharmacy associations:

  • American Pharmacists Association;
  • Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education;
  • American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy;
  • American College of Clinical Pharmacy;
  • Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy;
  • American Society of Consultant Pharmacists;
  • American Society of Health-System Pharmacists;
  • College of Psychiatric and Neurologic Pharmacists;
  • Hematology/Oncology Pharmacy Association;
  • National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations;
  • National Association of Specialty Pharmacy;
  • National Community Pharmacists Association; and
  • National Pharmaceutical Association.