Community Pharmacists Serve as a Focal Point During Public Health Emergencies


Despite adhering to rules and restrictions throughout the pandemic, community pharmacies remain accessible to the public and have worked on the frontlines.

Patients faced interruptions in seeking health care during the outbreak of coronavirus disease due to fear of infection, difficulty reaching physicians or health care facilities, and medicine supply interruptions. Despite adhering to rules and restrictions throughout the pandemic, community pharmacies have remained accessible to the public and have worked on the frontlines, providing essential services with the aim of ensuring the continuity of health care in the community. COVID-19 has led to a paradigm shift in community pharmacists' roles from dispensing medications to providing patient-centered care.1

Portrait of a male pharmacist working at the counter in pharmacy | Image Credit: Zamrznuti tonovi -

Zamrznuti tonovi -

During the pandemic, OTC drugs, including paracetamol, ibuprofen, herbal remedies, and supplements like vitamins C and D, were highly sought after as preventive measures against COVID-19. The increased consumption of these medications has resulted in irrational use, incorrect dosages, and misconceptions about their effectiveness in treating COVID-19.2 This underscores the vital role of community pharmacists in preventing the inappropriate use of vitamins and OTC products.2

During the pandemic, there was a surge in demand for medicine supplies, which led to a medication shortage and an insufficient supply of medicines. Hence, community pharmacists were rapidly adapting their front-line services to meet unprecedented demand by balancing the supply and demand of the medicine to best ensure an uninterrupted drug supply chain to the community. As the role of community pharmacists is significantly trusted by patients to maintain the continuity of medicine supply. Pharmacists have collaborated with physicians in providing therapeutic substitutions that are available in the market.3

Community pharmacists also contribute significantly to maintaining continuity of care for individuals with chronic diseases during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many chronic therapies experienced reduced adherence during this time due to difficulties accessing health care facilities and obtaining medications.4 Community pharmacists provided telemedicine consultations via telephone and electronic channels, improving patient adherence to chronic therapies, especially for those who did not need to visit a clinic or required prescription renewals.4 Additionally, they offered medication home delivery services to high-risk populations, such as the elderly, individuals with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, asthma, tuberculosis, diabetes, hypertension, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, limiting the need for these populations to visit the pharmacy.5,6

COVID-19 has underscored the crucial involvement of community pharmacists in vaccination programs, not only serving as vaccination sites but also in monitoring adverse effects and outcomes through ambulatory and tele-pharmacy services.1 Even before the pandemic, community pharmacists successfully administered a variety of vaccines, including seasonal, pandemic influenza, travel, and hepatitis B vaccines.7 During the H1N1 pandemic, their active involvement significantly increased vaccine uptake to 80% of the population.8 The active engagement of community pharmacists in vaccination is expected to continue beyond the COVID-19 era.


  1. Pantasri T. Expanded roles of community pharmacists in COVID-19: A scoping literature review. J Am Pharm Assoc (2003). 2022;62(3):649-657. doi:10.1016/j.japh.2021.12.013
  2. Mohamed Ibrahim O, Ibrahim RM, Ibrahim YA, Madawi EA, Al Deri MY. Shedding the light on Pharmacists' roles during COVID-19 global pandemic. Saudi Pharm J. 2022;30(1):14-27. doi:10.1016/j.jsps.2021.12.003
  3. Tan SL, Zhang BK, Xu P. Chinese pharmacists' rapid response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2020;77(14):1096-1097. doi:10.1093/ajhp/zxaa120
  4. Olmastroni E, Galimberti F, Tragni E, Catapano AL, Casula M. Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Adherence to Chronic Therapies: A Systematic Review. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2023;20(5):3825. doi:10.3390/ijerph20053825
  5. Brey Z, Mash R, Goliath C, Roman D. Home delivery of medication during Coronavirus disease 2019, Cape Town, South Africa: Short report. Afr J Prim Health Care Fam Med. 2020;12(1):e1-e4. doi:10.4102/phcfm.v12i1.2449
  6. Al-Quteimat OM, Amer AM. SARS-CoV-2 outbreak: How can pharmacists help?. Res Social Adm Pharm. 2021;17(2):480-482. doi:10.1016/j.sapharm.2020.03.018
  7. Maidment I, Young E, MacPhee M, et al. Rapid realist review of the role of community pharmacy in the public health response to COVID-19. BMJ Open. 2021;11(6):e050043. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2021-050043
  8. Cadogan CA, Hughes CM. On the frontline against COVID-19: Community pharmacists' contribution during a public health crisis. Res Social Adm Pharm. 2021;17(1):2032-2035. doi:10.1016/j.sapharm.2020.03.015
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