Pharmacists and pharmacy staff members have been committed to meeting the escalating demands associated with the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. For this reason, National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) President and CEO Steven C. Anderson issued a statement on July 31 regarding the nation’s preparations for the eventual deployment of COVID-19 vaccines.

“By any measure, America’s pharmacies present patients and the nation with an efficient, effective, and essential component of vaccine deployment. They will need to be part of the delivery plan for COVID-19 vaccines and treatments when available,” Anderson said in the statement.

Additionally, Anderson said that since there’s a community pharmacy within 5 miles of 90% of Americans, community pharmacies are an important resource in reaching rural populations and those suffering from disparities in health care.

“A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study found that including pharmacies in a pandemic vaccination model can help the nation vaccinate 80% of the population 7 weeks faster,” Anderson said.

As an association representing chain pharmacies, NACDS also noted in its statement that chain and independent pharmacies serve patients and communities with nearly 60,000 locations and more than 180,000 pharmacists nationally.

These pharmacists at chain and independent pharmacies also have a strong track record of supporting the country in times of critical health needs. During the H1N1 pandemic a decade ago, pharmacists helped to vaccinate Americans efficiently and effectively. In total, pharmacies accounted for 23% of all vaccines distributed during that period, despite the delivery of such care being new to pharmacies, according to NACDS.

Yet, Americans are accustomed to seeking vaccinations at pharmacies, due to approximately 1-in-3 adults in the country receiving their flu shots at a pharmacy. These same individuals will look to pharmacies for support upon the release of the eventual COVID-19 vaccine, according to NACDS.

In a survey conducted by NACDS, 86% of Americans agreed that pharmacists should be allowed to provide a vaccine or other medication to protect against COVID-19 once it has been successfully developed and released.

Additionally, 76% agreed that COVID-19 has shown that public health partners such as pharmacies are important and that some government regulations that prevent pharmacies from being utilized to the fullest extent possible need to be removed.

At a virtual event hosted on July 28 by the Economic Club of Washington, DC, Anderson noted that pharmacies and pharmacists are essential to the health and wellbeing of Americans during the pandemic. Specifically, he mentioned that pharmacies across the nation have been working to prepare for the upcoming critical flu vaccination season.

Anderson explained at the event that the process of engaging in flu preparation may also help pharmacies more effectively serve as deployment centers once a COVID-19 vaccine is released for distribution. He detailed further that there are government actions that would be beneficial in the empowerment of pharmacies to work with greater efficacy in their service of the health and wellbeing of Americans during the ongoing crisis.

“We look forward to remaining an integral part of the nation’s planning and preparations for administering vaccines and treatments as the American public expects,” Anderson said in the statement.

NACDS Statement on Crucial Role of Pharmacies in Eventual COVID-19 Vaccine Deployment. Washington, DC: National Association of Chain Drug Stores; July 31, 2020. Accessed August 3, 2020.