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Published on Monday, March 29, 2021

White House’s expansion of pharmacy vax program brings COVID-19 goals closer to reality

CONTACT: Frank Fortin

WASHINGTON, DC—The American Pharmacists Association (APhA) today cheered the White House’s move to fully activate the pharmacies in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, which is a piece of the national COVID-19 vaccination strategy. By April 19, Americans will have access to the COVID-19 vaccine in 40,000 local pharmacies within the program.

“President Biden did the nation a huge favor by more than doubling the number of pharmacies that will receive COVID-19 vaccines under the federal program,” said APhA Executive Vice President and CEO Scott J. Knoer. “For so many of our nation’s most vulnerable populations, pharmacies’ full participation in COVID-19 vaccination efforts could mean the difference between life and death.”

Approximately 90% of Americans live within 5 miles of a pharmacy, and most Americans see their pharmacists more than any other health provider each year. Patients often have long and trusting relationships with their pharmacists. The accessibility to pharmacies, particularly in rural and underserved areas, is a strategic asset to national COVID-19 vaccination efforts—even before today’s expansion, 45% of pharmacies participating in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program served the highest-need neighborhoods. 

“The government can count on pharmacies to be not only key vaccination access points, but also sources of public education,” Knoer said. “Pharmacists can answer questions about the vaccine, dispel myths, extend public health messaging, help boost vaccine confidence, and address hesitation to get the COVID-19 vaccine,” Knoer said.

Nearly 400,000 pharmacists throughout the country are educated, equipped, and qualified to vaccinate patients across the lifespan. In addition, tens of thousands of pharmacy technicians have completed immunization training programs and are taking advantage of the federal government’s expansion of their practice authorities.

“There is no possible way to swiftly immunize every person and every community in the nation without pharmacies,” Knoer said. “Pharmacists, student pharmacists, and pharmacy technicians have the bona fides, the willingness, and the passion to get us across the finish line.”

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