According to the reports from companies that take part in “Operation Warp Speed” (OWS), Americans will see the vaccine from COVID-19 soon. The main goal of OWS to produce and deliver 300 million doses of safe and effective vaccines with the initial doses available by January 2021, as part of a broader strategy to accelerate the development, manufacturing, and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics (collectively known as countermeasures).
That’s why to maximize access to COVID-19 vaccines for all Americans, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced on November 12, the U.S. government’s partnerships with large chain pharmacies and networks that represent independent pharmacies and regional chains.
60% of Pharmacies Take Part In OWS
HHS reported that this partnership with pharmacy chains, through the proposed program covers approximately 60 percent of pharmacies throughout the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Besides, the partnerships with network administrators, independent pharmacies and regional chains will also be part of the federal pharmacy program, further increasing access to vaccine across the country—particularly in traditionally underserved areas.
“Ensuring access and affordability of the COVID-19 vaccine for all Americans is a top priority for the Trump Administration,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “We are leveraging the existing private sector infrastructure to get safe and effective vaccines supported by Operation Warp Speed into communities and into arms as quickly as possible with no out-of-pocket costs. The vast majority of Americans live within five miles of a pharmacy, and our new agreement with pharmacy partners across America is a critical step toward making sure all Americans have access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines when they are available.”
Vaccinations In Retail and Grocery Stores
Also HHS said that to traditional brick-and-mortar pharmacies, pharmacists, pharmacy interns, and pharmacy technicians also provide vaccinations in retail and grocery stores, – “Therefore, pharmacy vaccinators are crucial public health partners for increasing access and convenience of COVID-19 vaccines. Many pharmacists and the interns and technicians working under their supervision are trained to provide immunizations and are already important immunizers in their communities. Pharmacists are also a trusted health resource in their communities, and have played a vital role in the public health response to COVID-19 by counseling patients, expanding access to childhood vaccinations during the pandemic, and ordering and administering COVID-19 tests.”
Thus, working with these partners, the federal government will rapidly expand access to COVID-19 vaccines, and vaccine will be administered at partners’ pharmacy locations at no cost to patients.
“Since 2012, CDC has worked extensively with pharmacies to improve pandemic preparedness, conduct vaccine throughput exercises, and assess store and organizational response capabilities,” said CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield. “Through these partnerships, we will leverage established relationships to support our critical public health mission of vaccinating the American public to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
To pharmacies, that do not participate in the federal allocation program, government offer to be part of the solution and should coordinate with their jurisdiction’s health department to become COVID-19 vaccine providers.