Visiting A Pharmacy? Stay Covered

Pharmacists offer trusted advice regarding coronavirus products, services, and tests
inside grocery store and pharmacy

As a vital part of the healthcare system, pharmacies play an important role in providing medicines, therapeutics, vaccines, and critical health services to the public. 

Ensuring the continuous function of ‘main-street’ pharmacies during the COVID-19 disease pandemic is important to everyone, said the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on April 14, 2020. 

When visiting a pharmacy, know that individuals without coronavirus symptoms (“asymptomatic”) and those who eventually develop symptoms (“pre-symptomatic”) can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms.  

This means that the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity—for example, speaking, coughing, or sneezing—even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms.

To clarify this health risk, a new study published on April 15, 2020, suggests that simply speaking at a normal volume could produce (SARS-CoV-2) droplets that could carry the coronavirus and linger in the air long enough to enter the airways of others in the vicinity.

These researchers report the ‘act of speaking generates oral fluid droplets that vary widely in size, and these droplets can harbor infectious virus particles.’ 

‘Whereas large droplets fall quickly to the ground, small droplets can dehydrate and linger as “droplet nuclei” in the air, where they behave like an aerosol and thereby expand the spatial extent of emitted infectious particles.’

And when an infected person speaks ‘loudly’ the virus is transmitted at a greater rate.

During the pandemic, pharmacies can minimize their risk of exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that causes COVID-19 and reduce the risk for customers by using the ‘principles of infection prevention and control and social distancing.’

These principles include, but are not limited to the following CDC insights:

  • Everyone entering the pharmacy should wear a face covering for source control (i.e., to protect other people in case the person is infected), regardless of symptoms. 
  • The CDC recommends persons entering public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) wear a cloth face-covering especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. 
  • Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.

And for pharmacists, the CDC suggests these actions:

  • Minimize physical contact with customers and between customers at checkout areas in front of the store. The staff that serves customers in the checkout areas (other than in the pharmacy area) should wear a cloth face covering, especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.
  • After a prescription has been prepared, the packaged medication can be placed on a counter for the customer to retrieve, instead of being directly handed to the customer. 
  • When available, facemasks are generally preferred over cloth face coverings for healthcare professionals (HCP) for source control. If there are shortages of facemasks, facemasks should be prioritized for HCP who need them for PPE.  
  • Cloth face coverings should NOT be worn instead of a respirator or facemask if more than source control is required.

Since the CDC suggests testing for the coronavirus is very important, pharmacies that are participating in public health testing for SARS-CoV-2 should communicate with local and state public health staff to determine which persons meet the criteria for testing. 

Each state health department has defined procedures to collect, store, and ship specimens appropriately, including during after hours or on weekends/holidays.

In the “CDC Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations for Patients with Suspected or Confirmed Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Healthcare Settings,” there is guidance for collecting respiratory specimens.

With tens of thousands of locations, community pharmacies are part of the integrated care team, and vital to reducing the spread of this coronavirus.

Pharmacy vaccine, testing and medication news published by Precision Vaccinations.