Since the second quarter of 2021, pharmacists have administered over 90% of all adult vaccines. Therefore, we need to ensure that laws allowing them to provide all ACIP-recommended, and/or FDA-approved, vaccines are adopted and maintained in every state. This is critical to address the healthcare equity issue, since low-income communities which are over-represented by racial and ethnic minorities have far better access to pharmacies than physician offices.
Authors: Kevin M. Ban and Robert Popovian (an ACSH advisor)
In December, the United States marked the two-year anniversary of the first COVID-19 vaccination. These vaccines have been incredibly successful: 3.2 million deaths averted, 18.5 million hospitalizations prevented and $1.15 trillion saved, according to a report [from the Commonwealth Fund]. We are forever indebted to the scientists who developed them.
But as two healthcare professionals, we know that even the safest and most effective vaccines are worthless if they don’t go into arms. That was the principle behind one of the most thoughtful strategies put in place during the pandemic: expanding the ability of pharmacists and pharmacist technicians in all 50 states to administer more vaccines to more people. A new study from IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science and the Global Healthy Living Foundation (GHLF) — where one of us is the chief science officer — documents the overwhelmingly successful impact of placing pharmacies at the center of COVID-19 and other recent vaccination efforts. Federal and state policymakers must ensure that this critical component of our healthcare system remains in place permanently.
In August 2020, provisions authorized by the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act were written into the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. Under these provisions, pharmacists and the pharmacist technicians they supervise are permitted to administer COVID-19 vaccinations to everyone ages 3 and up, flu vaccines to all adults, and all recommended pediatric vaccines for children ages 3-18. These vaccines can be administered without a prescriber order, even in states with laws limiting pharmacies from offering certain vaccinations to particular populations. At the time, COVID-19 vaccines were still months away from being authorized, but health officials smartly realized that prioritizing accessibility was necessary to ensure success.
#Reprinted with permission. The entire article can be found on The Hill website.