Know the Facts and Prepare Your Pharmacy

The first round of eagerly anticipated COVID-19 vaccines has begun distribution across the United States. The first phase of immunizations are reserved for frontline healthcare workers, and as the general public watches on, these individuals being immunized are helping to instill trust and confidence in the vaccine. Many have begun to speak out and educate the public, as well as debunk myths and misinformation that may be circulating. Simultaneously, preparation is underway for the upcoming phases of the vaccine rollout to more members of the public.

Pharmacies are stepping up as a crucial player in facilitating the widespread administration of the vaccine. Chain drugstores have been tapped as key players in this initiative, however, local independent pharmacies are capable and willing to provide the vaccine to their communities as well. Woodsprings Pharmacy, a PioneerRx pharmacy in Jonesboro, AR, was one of the first pharmacies in the state to receive the first round of COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer.

Big-box chains like CVS and Walgreens are hiring thousands of pharmacists to assist with COVID-related operations. Some independent pharmacists have even had these chains quietly reaching out to them for help, suggesting that there is demand for local pharmacies being involved in the distribution of the vaccine. If your pharmacy is interested in offering the COVID-19 vaccine to your community, here are some considerations and resources to look into in order to prepare your pharmacy:

Training and Preparation

COVID-19 Vaccination Training Programs for Healthcare Professionals

  • The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in collaboration with The Public Health Foundation has released a training guide for healthcare professionals, covering topics such as vaccine storage and handling, vaccine administration, communication with patients about vaccines, and clinical materials.

NCPDP Emergency Preparedness Guidance – COVID-19 Vaccines

  • The National Council for Prescription Drug Programs (NCPDP) has an emergency preparedness document providing resource information for the pharmacy industry, covering topics such as vaccine administration, vaccine use case examples, and pricing considerations.

Immunizations During COVID-19

  • The American Pharmacists Association (APhA) has a page dedicated to news updates, webinars, educational FAQs, and other considerations for pharmacists regarding COVID-19 vaccines.

Getting Paid

How to Enroll Your Pharmacy & Be Paid for Providing COVID-19 Vaccinations

  • American Pharmacies, a co-op owned by independent pharmacists, has a guide for enrolling your pharmacy to get paid for administering COVID-19 vaccinations. It includes CDC requirements for providers, reimbursement rates, a checklist for preparing your pharmacy to offer the vaccine, and a list of state-specific resources.

Customer Outreach

An important step to remember is planning a strategy to inform your community that you are offering the COVID-19 vaccine. Even though it may seem like everyone already knows about the vaccine and is actively seeking it out, that does not mean you can skip on customer outreach. Your community will not know they can get vaccinated at your pharmacy unless you explicitly tell them. Some ideas for advertising this include in-store promotional materials, word-of-mouth, website announcements, and social media posts. It may also be a good idea to post educational material promoting the safety and necessity of getting vaccinated.

Other Related Resources:

How to Start a Pharmacy Vaccination Program

Blog: Ready For An Immunization Program?

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