“America’s already stressed healthcare system is facing a daunting and complex flu season with the added complication of COVID-19,” shared Nancy Lyons, BSPharm, MBA, CDE, chief pharmacist for Health Mart. “There has never been a more important time for pharmacists to fully utilize their skills, abilities and training to fill care gaps and protect their communities. Patients can get a flu shot at their local independent pharmacy, often with no appointment required.”
The CDC recently published guidelines for providing immunizations during a pandemic to guide Health Mart pharmacies and all health care professionals on ways to safely immunize patients. During the visit, the pharmacist can also check national immunization guidelines to be sure that all recommended vaccines are up to date.
“We as pharmacists are the most easily accessible healthcare provider in the community, even more so during the pandemic,” shared Keri Bates, PharmD, pharmacist-in-charge at Rocky Ridge Drug, a Health Mart pharmacy. “And we are treating every interaction with patients during this time with care and precaution. Washing hands or sanitizing between each patient, wearing masks, and screening for symptoms of COVID-19 are mandatory.”
Equipping pharmacies to help
Recently, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a Third Amendment to the PREP Act to allow pharmacists and pharmacy interns the ability to provide childhood vaccines to offset the decline in immunization rates during the COVID-19 pandemic. Health Mart has launched several new initiatives to support pharmacies expanding immunization services, including:
- New continuing education courses on pediatric immunization administration, CDC guidelines for immunizing in a pandemic and the annual update for flu vaccine
- New centralized, online hub for immunization resources for Health Mart pharmacies
- Virtual immunization administration training through Health Mart University
- Advocating with state and local governments on behalf of community pharmacies
- Marketing support and courses on pharmacy marketing
“Two-thirds of adults say getting a flu shot is an important way to protect their health during the pandemic,” said Nimesh Jhaveri, MBA, RPh, president of Health Mart. “This demand will mean that every healthcare provider needs to step up, and we have diligently armed our independent pharmacies to not only immunize but also expand their services.”
In addition to immunizing, select Health Mart pharmacies are collecting COVID-19 tests through a program with HHS and eTrueNorth. To find more information, patients can visit DoINeedaCOVID19Test.com.