Community pharmacy capacity and pandemic preparedness greater than ever


When President Joseph R. Biden set a goal of more than one million vaccinations per day, it looked like the United States was preparing for a 2-front world war, appealing to the Federal Management Agency emergency and National Guard, sequestering space and tens of thousands of volunteers, and attracting many of them with rapid access to the vaccine. The media were obsessed with the idea that there were not enough vaccination sites for such an ambitious goal. Administrators and politicians often ended up ignoring an existing, well-scale vaccine administration infrastructure, governors panicked, and hospital lobbyists asked for favors to receive their vaccine bonuses. Makeshift vaccine suppliers, shopping malls and sports venues, never treating patients before the pandemic, have become the main venues for vaccination. Never mind that more shots are fired during school vaccinations and child welfare efforts alongside the flu season and at a faster rate than the spread of COVID-19 for many weeks during the campaign. vaccination campaign last spring.

Let’s use the current system and the trust built over decades

The vaccine supply is sufficient. The country should therefore focus on using the existing infrastructure for vaccine delivery from pharmacies and primary care providers, which together account for more than two-thirds of annual influenza vaccine delivery, alongside the special role of health services to help underserved populations and to advise on policies. Why would a patient need, want or be forced to drive past dozens, if not hundreds of existing providers, some of whom already maintain their medical records, to get a first, second or third dose? Why should patients be receiving health care services from someone they have never met and will never meet again rather than local and highly regarded frontline health care providers? reliable in their own neighborhoods? And we wonder why we have issues of hesitation and confidence over COVID-19 vaccinations.

The next wave (s): multiple tests and vaccinations, over-the-counter counseling

Unlike past fall, winter and spring, in which a few thousand positive laboratory-confirmed tests across the country defined an almost absent flu season, the seasons ahead have many anticipating a trio of symptoms. colds, COVID-19 and flu in pharmacies. We are launching a recall program, and testing and vaccination requirements will increase exponentially for customers at concerts, gyms, institutions and restaurants. Pharmacies are likely to retain the much-needed authority to test for infectious diseases, a capacity issue that we have not addressed in this country. If Delta leads to another variant that can better bypass the COVID-19 vaccine supplement, we could have a crisis that exceeds or matches what we experienced in March 2020 and the following months with fear, high demand from the sidewalk and hand delivery and too few regular medical visits unrelated to COVID-19. Either way, pharmacies will be busy as patients will continue to need medication.

Pop-up clinics fill an important gap

Mass immunization clinics have played an important role in bridging the gap for people who typically do not have access to health care. Healthy people and young people, with no established connection to the health care provider community, often rely on worksite events or campaigns for screenings and vaccinations. Homebound, marginalized and / or very ill people make up the gap on the other side of the spectrum, with barriers to accessibility, cognition and movement. Either way, pop-up clinics with a known entity in the neighborhood or at the workplace can fill this gap without renting the 30-mile highway.

Continuous demand, multiple systems of care, abundant capacity

With half a million relatively stable newly vaccinated people per day and continued demand created by the 8-month federal guidelines on ‘booster’ injections, pharmacies should expect a very manageable but steady flow of residents with access. to local vaccine suppliers over the next 6 months. Pharmacies and primary care providers should play a major role in administering immunization. There is no need to disrupt the existing infrastructure by creating unnecessary clinics that could erode the already endemic mistrust of government and institutions just to create a “vaccine theater”. Hundreds of millions of tests and vaccines are performed every year as part of the primary care infrastructure, and the capacity is plentiful, both in clinics and pharmacies.

Most effective community response to the pandemic

Just like the lakes of Minnesota, which have a longer coastline than California, Florida and Hawaii combined, the smaller bodies of water (community providers) which are much more abundant (over 10,000 lakes). ) are superior to the vibrant beaches of the Atlantic. and the Pacific Oceans. Only in America would we spend billions of dollars on a health care system and then create an alternative access system in the event of a pandemic. From 2 to 1, patients prefer to use a pharmacy or primary care clinic as the primary source of immunization services.2 Many experts predict that COVID-19 will become endemic and that, like the flu, we will pursue similar variants and pathogens indefinitely, perhaps on a seasonal basis. With many developing countries just receiving their first large shipments of COVID-19 vaccines, we can assume we’ll be here for the long haul.

Countless service opportunities as essential community providers

For pharmacies, the ongoing pandemic will provide continued opportunities to serve their communities, both as healthcare providers and leaders, along with the healthcare team. The opportunities for counseling and education, testing and immunization will number in the billions over time, and pharmacists and primary care providers should be prepared and rejoiced. Providing high-quality community care, they will demonstrate that the more than 60,000 pharmacies and nearly half a million primary care providers in the United States are essential infrastructure.

Troy Trygstad, PharmD, PhD, MBA, is Vice President of Pharmacy Provider Partnerships for Community Care of North Carolina, which works with more than 2,000 physician offices to serve more than 1.6 million Medicaid, Medicare, commercially insured and uninsured patients. He holds a MD and MBA from Drake University and a PhD in Pharmaceutical Outcomes and Policy from the University of North Carolina. He also sits on the boards of the American Pharmacists Association Foundation and the Pharmacy Quality Alliance.


1. Page S, Hassanein N. No vaccination? Americans support strict rules and hide mandates to protect the common good. United States today. August 22, 2021. Accessed August 25, 2021. /

2. Allen Dobson L Jr, Trygstad T. We need to use the immunization infrastructure we already have. Pharmacy time. April 1, 2021. Accessed August 25, 2021.


Comments are closed.