ALEXANDRIA, Va. — State and local health officials could accelerate the sputtering COVID-19 vaccine rollout by working more closely with community pharmacists who care for millions of patients across the country, said the National Community Pharmacists Association today.
“Based on what we’re seeing, the vaccine rollout is going better in states where community pharmacists are key partners in the distribution,” said NCPA president Brian Caswell. “West Virginia and Arkansas are good examples, where state and local health departments are working closely with community pharmacists to reach more patients and satisfy the demand. They should be models for the rest of the country.”
Caswell noted that there are more than 21,000 community pharmacies in the United States, more than CVS and Walgreens combined. Most of these pharmacy small businesses are already doing immunizations for other diseases, and the overwhelming majority want to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to their patients. Moreover, 79% are in communities with fewer than 50,000 people, according to NCPA research.
“Community pharmacists are often the only accessible health care provider in their communities,” said Caswell. “They have a presence almost everywhere, but they are especially important in hard-to-reach communities with underserved populations.
“We are urging state and local health departments to enlist the community pharmacies in their jurisdictions and give them a shot at administering COVID-19 vaccinations. Community pharmacies are a force multiplier,” he continued. “They also have a high degree of trust with their patients, and that’s critical for overcoming vaccine hesitancy.”