On October 2nd American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) published statement on the release of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s (NASEM’s) allocation report “Framework for Equitable Allocation of COVID-19 Vaccine”, developed by the Committee on Equitable Allocation of Vaccine for the Novel Coronavirus. This report was sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and will consist the work of federal agencies that will determine how COVID-19 vaccine(s) will be allocated in the United States.
The committee announced that they highly appreciated pharmacists, who serve during the pandemic and in report now prioritizes pharmacists along with other high-risk, frontline healthcare providers recommended being immunized against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in the first phase of vaccine allocation. The report also emphasizes pharmacist as immunizers, at risk for community transmission.
Prioritizing The Most Vulnerable Populations
According to the report NASEM identified pharmacists in the second phase to be vaccinated. “NASEM listening session, advocated to create a targeted framework that prioritizes the most vulnerable populations and critical occupation groups, including pharmacists and all high-risk, frontline healthcare workers,” – published ASHP. In their turn the committee urged to allow pharmacists receive COVID-19 vaccine, and supplies, that need to administer the vaccine in priority.
“ASHP is working to ensure that pharmacists are immunized and empowered to be immunizers. Without question, pharmacists and pharmacy technicians need to be prioritized for vaccination alongside other frontline healthcare workers,” said ASHP Chief Executive Officer Paul W. Abramowitz, Pharm.D., Sc.D. (Hon.), FASHP. “We applaud the National Academies for reconsidering its initial stance on this point, which is critically important for our members who have been working tirelessly on the front lines and who stand ready to administer the vaccine, when approved and distributed.”
Recommendations From NASEM’s COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation Report:
- The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) should adopt the committee’s framework for equitable allocation of COVID-19 vaccine.
- HHS should leverage and expand the use of existing systems, structures, and partnerships across all levels of government and provide the necessary resources to ensure equitable allocation, distribution, and administration of COVID-19 vaccine.
- The COVID-19 vaccine should be provided and administered with no out-of-pocket costs for those being vaccinated.
- HHS should create and appropriately fund a COVID-19 vaccine risk communication and community engagement program.
- The CDC should develop and launch a COVID-19 vaccine promotion campaign.
“We are pleased that the recommendations in the report explicitly address the burden of COVID-19 on communities of color and agree with recommendations that address mitigating health inequities is ‘a moral imperative of an equitable vaccine allocation,’” Paul W. Abramowitz said. At the final version of the report, is also addressed the issue of vaccination program administration, risks and strategies for community engagement. NASEM also notes the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on minorities and discusses the underlying causes that have led to higher rates of infection.