Bipartisan Correspondence Urges HHS to Increase Focus on Community Pharmacies for COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution

The letter said states where community pharmacists have taken a larger leadership role have seen a much faster distribution of COVID-19 vaccines to vulnerable populations.

US Representatives Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) and David B. McKinley (R-WV) have sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) urging President Biden’s administration to follow the lead of states that have used a community pharmacist-led approach in the national coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine distribution strategy.1

The correspondence follows a joint letter sent earlier this week from the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) and the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists, which urged governors to utilize independent pharmacies.2

“Community pharmacists are integral parts of the communities they serve, especially in rural and underserved communities,” said the letter by Spanberger and McKinley. “Their years of providing patient-centered care and wrap-around pharmacy services means they have earned their patients’ and their communities’ trust. This experience makes them uniquely capable of addressing the high rates of vaccine hesitancy we’ve seen among minority and underserved communities.”1

In their letter, Spanberger and McKinley said states where community pharmacists have taken a larger leadership role have seen a much faster distribution of COVID-19 vaccines to vulnerable populations. The letter also urged HHS to learn from these approaches and incorporate them into the federal vaccination strategy, including in efforts to increase education and combat misinformation about the vaccine.1

“Community pharmacists have the flexibility to cut through red tape and reduce paperwork burdens for patients and their guardians in many cases,” Spanberger and McKinley wrote. “For example, in West Virginia, the community pharmacists demonstrated great ingenuity in establishing a vaccine drive that finished administering the first round of the vaccine to nursing home residents by the end of December. By comparison, at the end of December most other states had only just begun administering the first dose of the vaccine to nursing home residents.”1

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