On January 19, ASHP (American Society of Health-System Pharmacists) is appealed to President-elect Joseph R. Biden to activate federal resources, including the Department of Defense, the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to operate mass vaccination sites to supplement COVID-19 vaccination efforts already underway at hospitals and community pharmacies.
ASHP represents pharmacists who serve as patient care providers in acute and ambulatory settings. The organization’s nearly 58,000 members include pharmacists, student pharmacists, and pharmacy technicians.
More than 50 health systems and provider organizations, the professional organization representing nearly 58,000 pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and student pharmacists sand a letter, in which told incoming administration officials that effective deployment of federal resources is critical to meet the president-elect’s goal of vaccinating 100 million people during his first 100 days in office.
“Dear President-Elect Joe Biden: In order to meet your goal of vaccinating 100 million people during your first 100 days in office, the undersigned health systems and healthcare organizations urge you take immediate steps, upon your inauguration, to activate federal resources, including the Department of Defense (DoD), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps (USPHS), and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to operate mass vaccination sites across the country, to supplement vaccination efforts already underway at hospitals and community pharmacies,” – said in a letter.
ASHP also urged the Biden team to expand the vaccinator workforce by utilizing pharmacy, nursing, and medical students and retired healthcare workers who are trained and willing to support the vaccination effort.
“The slow ramp up in vaccinations has demonstrated that using federal organizations to operate mass vaccination sites, in addition to vaccination efforts at hospitals and community pharmacies, will be necessary to ensure that anyone who wants the vaccine can get it, as doses become available,” said ASHP CEO Paul W. Abramowitz, Pharm.D., Sc.D. (Hon.), FASHP.
Pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and student pharmacists are already playing pivotal roles in administering COVID-19 vaccines through health systems, pharmacies, long-term care facilities, health departments, and on college campuses around the country, according to two surveys ASHP conducted in late December.
Health-system pharmacists and other pharmacy staff responding to a member survey reported that the pharmacy departments’ roles in vaccination include overseeing receipt, storage, and handling of vaccines (88%); overseeing coordination and administration of the vaccine to staff (54%); and monitoring adverse events and submitting Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System reports (41%).
Hospitals are looking to the pharmacy workforce to expand their pool of immunizers, with nearly 40% of respondents reporting vaccine administration as one of their primary roles during the vaccine rollout. In more than a third of facilities, the pharmacy is involved in decisions about who is prioritized for vaccination, serving as a hub for vaccine distribution to other locations in the state or health system (30%), and data entry into immunization databases (27%).
Nearly 90% of pharmacists indicated they had either already been vaccinated (32%) or would be vaccinated as soon as its available (56%), while 11% indicated they would defer vaccinations to a later time, and only 1% indicated they did not intend to receive a vaccine.
“Leveraging a highly qualified and empowered pharmacy workforce in all care settings is a vital step to expanding patient access to the COVID-19 vaccine, “said Abramowitz. “Pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and student pharmacists serve as knowledgeable and accessible immunization providers in their communities, successfully collaborating with public health officials and other providers to ensure that there is broad protection from worsening and future outbreaks of the disease.”